Mental Health Services

Mental Health and Wellness in School

Sharon Packard, Mental Health Coordinator 772-564-6224


We all have mental health. No one expects to stay healthy physically if they neglect their bodies; in fact, most people (including young children) can easily discuss how they manage their physical health through things like diet, exercise, good sleep, and regular checkups with their doctor. Tobe mentally well, we must engage in very similar forms of regular self-care. Self-care can include healthy behaviors related to sleep, diet, and physical activity, mindfulness activities, cognitive exercises, and use of positive social support, and mental health checkups (just to name a few!).

It’s a continuum. In other words, we experience many feelings and behaviors that range from healthy to unhealthy, with many points in between. Most of us do not fall exclusively on a single point on the continuum all the time; rather, we travel along the continuum. One in five of us experience significant distress and impairment in our functioning at school, home, work, or in some other meaningful area of our life due to our feelings and/or behaviors. In other words, 20% of children and adults are currently experiencing a mental illness. Visit the CDC website to learn more about the statistics.

Growing up is stressful. Given the stressors associated with typical development and the many changes experienced through the teens and early 20s, it is unsurprising that most mental illnesses will onset (or occur for the first time) during these early periods of life. Nearly 50% of mental illnesses are detectable by the age of 14 and 75% have onset by the age of 24. Visit NAMI to learn more. To receive a formal diagnosis, a person typically will experience some distress due to their symptoms and they must experience impairment in some important area of functioning (e.g., social, academic, occupational). Keep in mind that all of us experience symptoms of mental illness on a continuum (i.e., we all know what it is like to feel sad, anxious, etc.) – it is the level of impairment and intensity of associated distress that really determines whether or not we meet criteria for a specific diagnosis. With this said, just like you would not ignore concerning changes in blood pressure or blood sugar readings, you should NOT ignore changes in mental health that might be early warning signs of more severe symptoms that are just yet to come. To succeed in school, and in life, you have to be healthy; this includes maintaining physical AND mental wellness.