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BISD focuses on student mental health and kindness

Bainbridge Island Review - 12/8/2022

It's no secret that COVID has had a huge impact on students and this year the Bainbridge Island School District is putting a big emphasis on kindness, mental health, and connecting students and their families with resources when needed.

During the November school board meeting, superintendent Peter Bang-Knudsen shared the news that a Bainbridge High School student had died in late October and extended condolences to the family and compassion for the entire community.

"I think it's a really important reminder of caring and looking out for loved ones, friends, for our neighbors and having that awareness of not only crisis situations, but also of mental health when folks are struggling," said Bang-Knudsen.

It is well-known that students experienced high levels of stress and depression during the pandemic, in fact, a report published by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) stated that nearly 20% of high school students report serious thoughts about suicide and 9% report a suicide attempt.

BISD responded to this report with a statement in its September community newsletter, "If we as a community can identify and support young people who are experiencing mental health symptoms, we can prevent tragedy before it occurs. BISD is focused on developing students' social and emotional skills to lead positive and healthy lives with strong connections, a feeling of belonging, and a sense of hope throughout their time with us."

To support the community, BISD is sharing resources for students and families and has initiated a year-long BISD Kind campaign with the aim of strengthening relationships, providing a framework for interactions and helping to promote a positive environment for students, staff and the greater Bainbridge Island community.

BISD KIND activities are leading an optional all-district book reading of Deep Kindness, by Houston Kraft and district-wide Acts of Kindness, Spirit Weeks, a community blood drive and collaborating with community partners to expand the theme of kindness beyond the district.

The first spirit and kindness week will take place Dec. 12-16 for students, school staff and everyone in between. Each day different activities will promote kindness by challenging students to smile at everyone they see in the hall, spread acts of kindness and recognize kind acts during the week before winter break.


BISD has a supportive counseling team and a social worker to assist students at school. However, if a student needs assistance outside of school, help may be found on the BISD Counseling & Crisis Resources webpage with links to social services organizations and hotlines for; suicide prevention, crisis intervention, depression or anxiety, substance abuse, local mental health and substance abuse resources, eating disorders and mental health referral services.

The district also offers parents access to Mind Wise Innovations, a behavioral health screening tool for parents to assess their child's overall health and help determine if a child should connect with a mental health professional.