“13 Reasons Why” Netflix Series:
How School Counselors Can Help


Watch the recorded Facebook Live event, "13 Reasons Why (season two)": What School Counselors and Other Educators Need to Know.


Personal struggles often come to light only in the public extremes, when an outburst, tragic event or television show forces us to stop and ask “Why?” This popularity of the series “13 Reasons Why” provides school counselors with an opportunity to have difficult conversations with students and, as needed, with staff members and parents. School counselors know students who struggle with social/emotional challenges are vulnerable to academic failure. Instinctively, others know this as well but often don’t have the tools they need or understand school counselors can provide help.

School counselors have specific training to recognize warning signs, such as: 
  • changes in school performance (e.g. grades, attendance)
  • changes in mood
  • complaints of illness
  • withdrawal
  • increased disciplinary problems at school
  • problems experienced at home or family situations (stress, trauma, divorce, substance abuse, poverty, domestic violence)
  • communication from teachers about problems at school
  • difficulty dealing with existing mental health concerns 
What School Staff Members Need to Know
About Issues From “13 Reasons Why”
 
Warning signs – Educate school staff about the social/emotional concerns of students and the warning signs of bullying, sexual assault, other forms of violence, anxiety, stress, depression and suicidal ideation. Include recognition that environmental factors at school or home may cause or exacerbate a student’s issues.
 
Where to go for help – Ensure all staff know to which school staff they should report concerns about students or staff (school counselors, social workers, psychologists, administrators, etc.).
Emphasize the importance of sharing concerns early before a serious issue arises.
 
How to reduce or eliminate stigma – Provide strategies school staff can use to help them recognize and eliminate stigma related to bullying, sexual assault and mental health issues. Also, provide information in classrooms, the main office and throughout school facilities about social services available to students.
 
What Parents Need to Know About Issues From "13 Reasons Why"

Warning signs – Share information with parents about the warning signs of bullying, sexual assault,  other forms of violence, anxiety, stress, depression and suicidal ideation. Include recognition that environmental factors at school or home may cause or exacerbate social/emotional or mental health issues.
 
School resources – Let parents know school counselors and other school staff always are resources to collaborate with on these types of issues. Reinforce that the goal is to help all students achieve success.
 
Community resources – Publicize community resources for additional assistance including individuals and organizations that provide support for those experiencing grief, victims of sexual assault and treatment of mental health issues including suicidal ideation and depression.

For parents who may want to watch the series first and determine if it is right for other family members on their account to view, a title-level PIN code can be added. Learn more.
 
What Students Need to Know About Issues From "13 Reasons Why"

Warning signs – Share information with students about the warning signs of bullying, sexual assault, anxiety, stress, other forms of violence, depression and suicidal ideation. Emphasize that these signs should not be treated lightly, and they should let a trusted adult know immediately if they have concerns about themselves or others.
 
School resources – Provide information about behaviors and situations that create toxic school environments (bullying, sexual assault, violence, etc.). Let students know school counselors and other school staff are there to help. If they have any concerns about themselves or others, they should tell a teacher, school counselor or other trusted adult immediately.

Talk with parents/guardians – Encourage students to discuss concerns about themselves or others with their parents/guardians. If a student is reluctant to talk with a parent, help the student prepare to have the discussion.

View a webinar presented by ASCA, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and the National Association of School Psychologists on using "13 Reasons Why" as a teachable moment.

Download handouts:
ASCA: How to Support Your School Community (Students, Families and Staff)
ASCA: How to Address Issues Using a Comprehensive School Counseling Programs
AFSP handout
NASP handout
 
Additional Resources
 
The Role of the School Counselor
 
ASCA Position Statement: The School Counselor and Student Mental Health
 
ASCA Position Statement: The School Counselor and Trauma-­‐Informed Practice
 
ASCA Position Statement: The School Counselor and the Identification, Prevention and Intervention of Behaviors That Are Harmful and Place Students At-Risk
 
ASCA Position Statement: The School Counselor and the Promotion of Safe Schools Through Conflict Resolution and Bullying/Harassment Prevention
 
13 Reasons Why Resources, Netflix (2018)

Keeping the Conversation Going, Netflix (2018)
 
Depression Resource Brochure

Model School District Policy on Suicide Prevention: Model Language, Commentary and Resources
 
13 Minutes of 13 Reasons Why, ASCA School Counselor (2017)
 
Self-Esteem in a Social Media World, ASCA School Counselor (2017)
 
Lead Mental Health Efforts, ASCA School Counselor (2014)
 
Students With Depression: Help Them Find Their Way Out , ASCA School Counselor (2014)

Suicide: Err on the Side of Caution, ASCA School Counselor (2013)
 
Student Suicide: Legal and Ethical Implications, ASCA School Counselor (2012)
 
Mental health surveillance among children – United States, 2005-­‐2011, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2010).
 
Erickson, A., & Abel, N. R. (2013). A high school counselor’s leadership in providing schoolwide screenings for depression and enhancing suicide awareness. Professional School Counseling, 16(5), 283-­‐289. doi: 10.5330/psc.n.2013-­‐16.283
 
Coalition to Support Grieving Students
 
Foundation for the Advancement of Alcohol Responsibility

National Sexual Violence Resource Center

The National Center for Victims of Crime

CDC Fact Sheet on Underage Drinking