NASHVILLE — The State Collaborative On Reforming Education (SCORE) and NashvilleHealth hosted more than 200 community, education, and mental health leaders today to explore ways to address the mental health challenges students are facing and their impact on educational outcomes in Tennessee.

With nearly one in four Tennessee youth dealing with at least one of the 10 most common mental, emotional, developmental, or behavioral problems, the “Connecting The Dots: Mental Health And Student Success In Tennessee” symposium held at Lipscomb University provided a platform for stakeholders to share innovative programs, best practices and student-lived experiences. It also highlighted research gaps concerning the impact of mental health services on state education outcomes and included the release of the Belmont Data Collaborative’s new county-level data on mental well-being vulnerabilities in Tennessee.

“Today we hope to inspire and connect state and national organizations working on research and programs supporting positive student mental health to elevate bright spots and highlight evidence-based work that could contribute to Tennessee programs,” Senator Bill Frist, MD, founder and board chairman of NashvilleHealth and SCORE, said.

The Belmont Data Collaborative’s Connecting The Dots: Mental Health And Student Success In Tennessee report, which was produced in partnership with SCORE and NashvilleHealth, created a Mental Well-Being Index for communities across all 95 counties in the state. Findings include:

  • At the county level, mental health vulnerability in Tennessee clusters in the eastern and western parts of the state.
  • The three most vulnerable counties in the state are Hancock, Lake and Haywood.
  • The most vulnerable zip codes in the state are in Memphis and Chattanooga.

“We hope this research motivates stakeholders to take action to help address the crisis around mental health and student success in Tennessee, and that it is a catalyst to continue conversations that lead to lasting change for our state and for our young people,” said Catherine Bass, director of the Belmont Data Collaborative.

“We recognize this crisis is too big for just one group or policymaker to solve,” Senator Frist said. “It cannot solely rest on the shoulders of schools, parents, or health-care providers. It demands collective recognition and action from all of us to address this pressing issue.”

In addition to new data from the Belmont Data Collaborative, the event highlighted The Sycamore Institute’s latest report, Child Mental Health Programs And Services In Tennessee. The symposium also included panel discussions on topics such as “Identifying Mental Health Needs In Education” and “Tennessee’s Approach To Supporting Student Mental Health And Well-Being.”

Featured speakers included representatives from state and national organizations such as the Belmont Data Collaborative, BRIDGES USA, Communities in Schools, Harvard University, The Jed Foundation, Sandy Hook Promise, The Sycamore Institute, and Vanderbilt University. Laura Morton, writer, producer, and co-director of the award-winning documentary Anxious Nation, served as the keynote speaker. The event also featured the opportunity for attendees to engage with Sergeant Bo, the Metro Nashville Police Department’s school therapy dog.

See the full list of speakers and learn more about the event on our website.