Dallas, TX - Isolation during the pandemic, online bullying, depression, anxiety and other social issues have made learning to recognize and manage mental health issues a crucial set of skills. That is why more than 5,000 middle and high school students from 20 North Texas schools are now learning mental wellness skills through a program offered by Medical City Healthcare and its parent company HCA Healthcare.

Mental Wellness Basics, an interactive mental health and wellness digital education course for middle and high school students, is available through a partnership with EVERFI, an international technology company. The course is available at no cost in Collin, Denton and Parker county independent school districts. Lewisville ISD was the first North Texas school district to take advantage of the mental wellness tool, with the support of Medical City Healthcare.

“Mental wellness is crucial to overall health,” says Erol Akdamar, FACHE, president of Medical City Healthcare. “Through mental wellness education and our award-winning kids teaching kids® nutrition education program, Medical City Healthcare is proud to partner with our community schools to encourage North Texas youth to develop healthy habits that contribute to lifelong well-being.”

Student response to the program has been positive.

“I liked that this course was specific about ways to notice you/others’ mental health as well as improve it,” says one North Texas middle school student about the program. “I can apply what I have learned in this course by showing support to others… reframing my own thoughts and using other coping strategies.”

“Addressing student mental wellness, not just during a pandemic, is an ongoing effort and crucial for the long term success and health of each child,” says Kevin Rogers, superintendent of schools for Lewisville Independent School District. “Lewisville ISD is pleased to include the EVERFI Mental Wellness Basics curriculum to supplement our existing social and emotional learning tools thanks to the support of Medical City Healthcare.”

Research shows that 50% of all lifetime mental illnesses develop by age 14, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. The proportion of mental health–related visits for children aged 5–11 and 12–17 years increased significantly during the pandemic, according to the CDC. Even before COVID-19, children and adolescents were experiencing mental health crises at unprecedented rates, with approximately one in five children ages three through 17 suffering from a diagnosable mental, emotional or behavioral disorder, according to a report published by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

The Mental Wellness Basics course provides teachers with the additional curriculum to equip students in grades 8-10 with knowledge and skills to build, maintain and promote positive mental health in themselves and their peers. The course aims to:

  • Increase knowledge and awareness
  • Reduce stigma
  • Establish effective coping strategies
  • Empower students to be advocates for themselves and others

Medical City Healthcare is part of HCA Healthcare, which is investing nearly $1 million over three years to bring this mental wellness program to middle and high school students. To date, more than 12,000 students from 85 schools in seven states, including Texas, are participating. Knowledge and data from nearly 200,000 annual behavioral health patient encounters within the HCA Healthcare system nationwide enables positive advances in educating the community about mental illness.

For more information about how North Texas school districts in Collin, Denton and Parker counties can participate, please send us an email.