Survey finds majority of parents support mental health services in schools

A new survey from Action for Healthy Kids asked parents and caregivers from across the country what worries them most about their children’s health and what would resolve those concerns. According to its results, parents worry most about  their child’s time spent on electronics, their physical safety and mental health.

Key findings include:

  • Nearly two-thirds of parents want training to better understand and support their child’s mental health and well-being.
  • About 80 percent of parents believe schools should employ a mental health professional at their school.
  • Almost 70 percent of parents indicated that their child feels safe and supported at school when there is at least one trusted adult they can talk to.
  • Ninety-five percent of parents support schools including programs that promote diversity and inclusion and teach social skills, such as respect, cooperation, perseverance and empathy.
  • The majority of parents responded that a safe and supportive school environment was associated with transparent communications, engaged school counselors and social workers, social-emotional skills and physical safety.
  • The biggest obstacle for kids getting help with mental health at school, according to parents, is the child themself thinking they do not need it.

The survey was conducted in December 2023 to a nationally representative sample of 1,016 parents and guardians with children in K-12 public schools.

“It’s clear from our latest survey that while parents are deeply concerned about their children’s mental health and safety at school, there’s a significant demand for more resources to address these issues,” said Action for Healthy Kids Executive Officer and President Rob Bisceglie said in a statement. “We must prioritize creating environments where all students feel safe, supported, and understood, and parents need to know that they’re not alone.”

Digging into the data

While the averages show high levels of parents who feel their children are safe at school, disaggregating the data shows that parents identifying as Black/African American and Hispanic were more likely to report being worried more about their child experiencing racism at school, and were less likely than white parents to believe schools should provide mental health professionals, a safe space, ability to talk to an adult and connections to community resources. Additionally, parents who identify as Black/African American and Hispanic were more likely than white parents to be concerned about their child being behind academically — 56 percent and 54 percent respectively, compared to 40 percent of white parents.

Differences also emerged at the school level. Parents of high school students were more likely to worry about school violence than parents of middle school and elementary students and were more likely to report being worried about their child struggling with mental health.

School resources

CSBA engaged Delegate Assembly members in discussions related to mental health during the December 2024 Policy Pillar Committee meetings. Delegates discussed mental health under the umbrella of the four CSBA Policy Pillars: Strengthen Local Governance, Secure Fair Funding, Improve Conditions of Children and Ensure Achievement for All. After the meeting, some Delegates wanted to share more in-depth information related to their local mental health programs, initiatives and strategies. To that end, they responded to the following three questions:

  1. What are the top two-three mental health issues surfacing in your regions?
  2. What strategies and/or approaches are working given the current funding and opportunities?
  3. What are the lingering challenges in addressing those issues?

The result is a list of programs across the state illustrating how local educational agencies are addressing the mental health needs of students and staff at the local level. The body of work below includes specific program details, a link to a website when available, and contact information if you would like to contact the LEA directly for more information. We hope this body of work helps support your efforts to identify promising practices in California to serve the mental health needs of students and staff.

Access the collection of programs at