Letter to the Editor: SB 214 aims to have mental health resources available for students

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To the Editor:

After the pandemic, students’ mental health has been at an all-time low across the world. After missing out on some of the most important years of their lives, it is clear why they would struggle. Some people are wondering how we could ever fix such a widespread issue, but it is simpler than it seems. If schools are the problem, then schools must also be the solution. Individual acts done by families cannot fix such a widespread issue even if they try as hard as they can. After returning to school, these students frequently have trouble adjusting back to ‘normal’ life. Even now, four years after lockdown, residual effects of the isolation are still present in students. Schools are often already underfunded, stressing teachers and staff alike as they try to help their students to the best of their ability. Senate Bill 214 aims to fix that.

Senate Bill 214 states that eligible schools are required to have mental health resources readily available for students. These resources vary wildly, but the most important resource that was talked about in the bill was the counselors. Counselors have been shown to be extremely beneficial when put into schools on a regular schedule. This way, students who need someone to talk to have somewhere to go other than busy teachers. It’s a win-win solution. Students get someone who has the time and the ability to just listen and empathize while teachers get the time they need to do their own work. Counselors are also trained to help students as any problems arise. If there are food scarcity problems, then the counselor can find resources for the student to take home. If there are other economic issues, like housing or employment for the family, then the counselor can either find a solution or put the student in contact with someone who is better equipped to handle the situation. Having said all this, one can see just how important counselors are for the schools they work in.

This Bill is currently in the House in a committee. If this Bill got your interest, make sure to let your elected officials know you are interested in mental health resources for students and advocate for better policy reform in the future through voting!

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Lillian Smith

Greenfield