Research on the Mental Health Well-Being of High School Students

Recommendations for Policymakers

A newly published report, Supporting the Mental Health Well-Being of High School Students, describes how students perceive access to mental health services in school. The report—the second in a series on student safety—follows Creating Safe Schools: Examining Student Perceptions of Their Physical Safety at School and offers recommendations for policymakers to address issues students identified regarding access to and awareness of mental health services, particularly for students in rural areas and students of color.

Major Report Findings

  • Most high school students reported having access to some type of health professional at school. However, nearly a quarter of students reported not knowing if their school offered basic mental health services.
  • Rural students reported having less access to basic school-based mental health services compared to students in suburban or urban locations.
  • A little more than half of students reported that they could reach out to a teacher if they needed mental health support. However, students of color were less likely to report that they could reach out to a teacher or counselor if they needed mental health support.

Report Contributors and Champions

ACT Research

ACT Research leads the field with authority and high-quality scientific evidence in support of education and workforce practices, solutions, and services. Our mission-driven team comprises a variety of backgrounds and disciplines and offers a wide spectrum of knowledge and skills, enabling us to deliver quality, high-impact products and services aligned to ACT’s strategy and mission. Together, our research teams provide policymakers, educators, parents, and learners with research-based insights to inform their decision-making and deliver educators and workforce development professionals with tools and services needed for education and career navigation.

ACT’s Center for Equity in Learning

ACT’s Center for Equity in Learning focuses on closing gaps in equity, opportunity and achievement for underserved populations and working learners. Through purposeful investments, employee engagement, and thoughtful advocacy efforts, the Center supports innovative partnerships, actionable research, initiatives, campaigns, and programs to further ACT’s mission of helping people achieve education and workplace success.


The authors would like to thank the following for their valuable comments:

Erin M.D. Lane, PhD, LPC, NCC
Western Illinois University

Laura Owen, PhD
American University

Tim Poynton, EdD, GCDF
University of Massachusetts-Boston