Educators predict student mental health issues will impact the upcoming school year, new Morgan Stanley poll finds


NEW YORK, September 08, 2021– (BUSINESS WIRE) – High school educators expect mental health issues to have a big impact on student learning this school year. Four in ten (41%) of high school teachers in the United States predict that students’ anxiety about returning to in-person learning and students with pre-existing emotional or behavioral issues facing exacerbated conditions will have “A lot” or “a huge impact” on the quality of student learning, according to a new survey released today by the Morgan Stanley Alliance for Children’s Mental Health (the “Alliance”). The survey was conducted online with 552 high school teachers in the United States, which included high school teachers, counselors, social workers and administrators.

The main results of the survey are as follows:

  • Educators expect students with pre-existing emotional or behavioral problems to return with exacerbated conditions (41%) is the third most critical challenge to the quality of student learning this school year, after deficits in student learning (47%) and economic difficulties (42%), and related to anxiety adjusting to in-person learning (41%).

  • Half or less of educators report that their school or district is “very or extremely prepared” to deal with any of these re-emergence issues, and overall educators are more likely to feel “very or extremely extremely prepared ”to tackle academic preparation (50%) than to tackle mental health challenges, whether students have pre-existing problems (42%) or not (41%).

  • Forty-one percent of educators say the area where additional training and resources would be most helpful is actively supporting students with emotional or behavioral problems.

This data is the next phase of a re-emergence program recently launched by the Morgan Stanley Alliance for Children’s Mental Health – a collaboration between Morgan Stanley, its foundation, and leading nonprofits including the Child Mind Institute, the Jed Foundation, The Steve Fund, New York – Morgan Stanley Presbyterian Hospital for Children and the Department of Psychiatry at Columbia University. This multi-faceted program – which includes a national survey of American teens, tip sheets, digital resources and a meeting for educators – aims to provide support and resources to educators and families dealing with mental health issues. children for the 2021-2022 school year.

Based on these findings, the Alliance offers the following recommendations for high schools:

  1. Prepare for a different educational landscape. It will take time and encouragement for students to rebuild their social skills and ability to concentrate, so have patience and set realistic expectations.

  2. Expect to meet emotional, social, and mental health needs. It will be important to maintain personal connections with students and watch for signs and symptoms of any emotional struggles over the weeks and months, so allow time to assess and respond to student preparation and support needs.

  3. Equip staff to functionally and positively notice and respond to mental health needs. All faculty and staff should be trained to recognize the signs of a struggle and know how to reach out to offer support and know where to direct students for professional help when needed.

  4. Create spaces and opportunities for young people to process and understand their experience. Consider creating dedicated time, space, and techniques such as journaling, talking circles, artistic expression, body movements, and interactive group and / or self-reflection activities to help students understand and sort their experience.

  5. Focus on strengthening connectivity. Allow space and time for re-acquaintance and social connection activities between students and between young people and staff, as many students may feel uncomfortable in high stimulus or stressful environments. high expectations.

  6. Connect with parents as early as possible in the school year. Parents are key allies in supporting students, but they will also benefit from resources and advice on how best to support their children and, in some cases, themselves or other family members.

  7. Prepare for an increased need for social support programs. Due to employment issues during the pandemic, schools may see an increase in the number of students enrolling in after and before school programs as well as free and reduced meals.

  8. Support staff needs. We have all been affected by the pandemic and school personnel are no exception. Schools should be careful to create spaces for staff to process and integrate their pandemic experience and have the flexibility they may need to overcome challenges they may still face.

“Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, educators across our country have been urged to support students academically while providing emotional, social and behavioral support during this difficult time,” said Joan Steinberg, President of the Morgan Stanley Foundation and CEO of the Advisory Board of the Morgan Stanley Alliance for Children’s Mental Health. “The Alliance is committed to providing resources and tools to better prepare schools and educators to effectively support adolescent mental health in the coming school year.”

For more detailed survey results, please visit here.

* Morgan Stanley commissioned Fluent Research to survey 552 high school teachers in the United States online from June 12 to July 8, 2021. Educators included 322 high school teachers, 134 high school counselors, social workers and nurses, and 96 administrators district and high school (superintendents and principals).

About Morgan Stanley
Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS) is a leading global financial services firm providing investment banking, securities, wealth management and investment management services. With offices in more than 41 countries, the firm’s employees serve clients around the world, including businesses, governments, institutions and individuals. For more information on Morgan Stanley, please visit

About the Morgan Stanley Alliance for Children’s Mental Health
The Morgan Stanley Alliance for Children’s Mental Health brings together key leaders in the field of children’s mental health and combines the resources and reach of Morgan Stanley and its foundation with the knowledge and experience of its partner organizations at distinguished nonprofit. The Alliance helps to strategically respond to children’s mental health issues and the far-reaching challenges of stress, anxiety and depression. For more information on the Alliance, visit

© 2021 Morgan Stanley & Co. LLC and Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC. SIPC Members. CRC 3740747 9/2021

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