U.S. and Italian School Leaders Discuss Mental Health

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International Discussion on School Mental Health

School leaders in the United States and Italy have joined forces to address the mounting mental health challenges in schools. This partnership comes at a crucial time, as both nations grapple with the emotional and social crises that have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Though the nature and response to these concerns vary due to cultural, societal and systemic factors, the social and emotional challenges share a common core.

Over the past few months, AFSA has been working in a unique international collaboration with Senza Zaino, Italy’s largest network of school leaders from 800 pre-K to middle schools, across every geographic region in Italy. 

In December, Senza Zaino President Dr. Iselda Barghini and AFSA President Dr. Leonard P. Pugliese signed a declaration of cooperation in addressing common issues. 

During early discussions, it became clear that the concerns of both countries are very much the same. At the top of the list are the emotional and social crises in our schools and their grave consequences, particularly following the pandemic.

To hear more about these shared challenges and desired remedies, please join our discussion with educators talking about these important issues. The conversation is available on demand by clicking here.

Addressing mental health challenges in schools requires a multifaceted approach, including better access to mental health professionals, integration of mental health education and supportive policies. While both the United States and Italy face significant challenges, sharing strategies and learning from each other’s experiences can help improve the mental health support systems in both countries.

Student Mental Health Comparative Analysis

United States vs. Italy

  • Both countries face significant challenges related to anxiety, depression and the impact of academic pressure on students' mental health.
  • There is a growing recognition of the need for mental health education and support within schools.
  • Both the United States and Italy are working toward better integration of mental health services in educational settings.
  • The United States has a more widespread issue with bullying and cyberbullying, potentially due to higher social media usage rates.
  • Italy faces unique challenges related to economic conditions and the stigma surrounding mental health, which can affect the availability and acceptance of mental health services.
  • The United States has more established policies and legislation aimed at addressing mental health in schools, while Italy relies more on regional initiatives and support from nongovernmental organizations.