By Dr. Lisa Acker, Head of Student Services
The best educational experience comes to fruition when students have access to the resources they need to thrive in and out of the classroom. As Head of Student Services at Milken, I have the incredible opportunity to be part of an organization that truly values student well-being. As our educational philosophy states, “we believe learning is relational and communal.” The level of commitment Milken provides towards student services is profound.
That being said, today’s teen mental health landscape is challenging and we have to be accurately aware of what that means for each of our students. Mental wellness includes emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects our thoughts and behaviors, determining how we handle stress, relate to others, and make healthy choices. As defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the mental health crisis for children and youth in the United States has reached a critical point. The American Psychological Association (APA) is in agreement that the mental health crisis for children and teens is on the rise, and highlights that the demand for services and programs to meet their needs is at an all-time high.
To highlight the urgent need, The U.S. Surgeon General, Vivek Murthy, MD, released an advisory statement
last December to address the nation’s youth mental health crisis. Murthy concluded that most importantly, youth mental health challenges are treatable and often preventable. He emphasized the importance of taking on an “all-of-society” effort, including policy, institution, and individual changes in how we view and prioritize mental health. The advisory provides comprehensive recommendations and Milken parents can feel confident that the services we provide are in line with Murthy’s recommendations as we partner with them to support our students.
Personally, I am passionate about this issue, completing my Doctorate in Psychology dissertation on the rise of anxiety and depression in the college prep culture. Working in college prep private schools for most of my career, I have seen firsthand a steady rise in mental health concerns and the unique and intricate pressures that our communities face. The pandemic has further exacerbated already alarming trends in mental health for all students.
Student well-being—including physical and mental health—is deeply intertwined with learning outcomes. Early identification and effective treatment for children can make a difference in the lives of children with mental health conditions. In a nutshell, healthy children learn better across the board than children who are suffering from physical or mental health problems.
For these reasons, we have increased the number of mental health supports at Milken and created a multi-pronged approach to support students. This includes both prevention and intervention practices to address students’ overall well-being. We have created an integrated framework of educational, social, emotional, and behavioral support for students in all divisions. As an example of our commitment, during the last two years, we have worked to embed more social-emotional learning through integration in our advisory, health, and physical education programs.
We will continue to evaluate and implement developmentally appropriate social and emotional learning standards and programs. Our goal is to ensure that all our students have the platform to thrive as part of our larger Milken community, and rooted in the core values of Milken.
If you have any questions about our Student Services department or want to speak to your child’s divisional counselor or academic support director, please reach out to us
Dr. Lisa Acker
Head of Student Services