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30 Days of Mental Health
Throughout the Academic Year

Press Release



Media Contact: Marcela Cartagena


August 13, 2021


Mental Health Crisis Prompts TREP Project to Launch Campaign to Promote Mental Health Literacy in Schools


CHICAGO, IL -- The Trauma Responsive Educational Practices Project (TREP Project) is launching a 30 Days of Mental Health to Start the Academic Year campaign on Aug. 16 to provide resources to educators, parents, and other caregivers to promote positive mental health among children and youth. 


An American Psychological Association (APA) national survey in the Spring of 2020 revealed that after only a few months of the pandemic, Gen Z teens (ages 13-17) were feeling anxiety and uncertainty about their present and future, and were already reporting increased symptoms of depression.  


Since then, there has been a steady stream of reports detailing the growing child and youth mental health crisis.


These pressures can be seen in the unprecedented use of children’s hospitals emergency rooms for mental health distress. The Children’s Hospital Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics reported that during the summer of 2020, hospital admissions and emergency room visits increased by nearly 20 percent for suicide attempts, and 40 percent for disruptive behavior disorders. 


The pandemic induced rise in suicide attempts has been especially high for adolescent girls. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that between February and March 2021, the number of emergency department visits for presumed suicide attempts was 51 percent higher among girls ages 12-17 compared to the same period in 2019.


All of this means that mental health promotion must be at the forefront of guidance for how schools resume full in-person learning in the middle of another surging wave of COVID cases.  


To strengthen child and youth resilience, increase their mental health literacy, and reduce stigma, the 30 Days of Mental Health to Start the Academic Year initiative will provide educators, parents, and caregivers with easy-to-use mental health lessons. 


Numerous studies show that schools are uniquely situated to help children and youth recover their mental health. The reality is that schools are the primary mental health delivery system in the US: about 75 percent of all children who receive mental health care receive those services in a school setting. While it’s not possible for schools to provide therapy for all who will need it, they can ensure that all classrooms provide school-wide mental health promotion support. 


To learn more and sign the pledge, simply visit and receive a pledge poster to show your commitment to promoting positive mental health and also receive lessons, tips, and tools to help you talk with children and youth about mental health and mental illness. 



For interview requests on trauma and mental health among youth and children, please contact Marcela Cartagena


About the TREP Project: Based at the University of Chicago, the TREP Project works to develop the individual and organizational capacity of educators and schools serving children growing up in neighborhoods that have high levels of toxic stress, such as violent crime, concentrated poverty, concentrated foster care involvement, and housing instability. 



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