Mental Health Resources
Students are facing a mental health crisis. According to the New York Times, students across the country consistently rate their mental health "as the worst it's ever been." Mental health, especially in children, is a multi-facetted issue. There is no one way to treat mental health conditions, and different strategies work for different students. However, one thing is for certain: we are not doing enough in our schools for student mental health.
The American School Counselors Association recommends a ratio of 1 school counselor for every 250 students. At Boise High, where I attend, that ratio is nearly 1:400 with 4 school counselors, one school psychologist, and one social worker to support the needs of approximately 1600 students. Idaho has one of the highest teen suicide rates in the country. At a time where teens are literally dying in schools, there remains a dense stigma around mental health. We are not providing enough in-school resources to adequately address the needs of most students.
Supporting student mental health is deeply personal to me. Suicide and depression have tremendously affected my family. During the pandemic, I have seen many of my peers struggle with depression and anxiety, and it felt like our schools, where we are supposed to feel safe and loved, were turning a blind eye. As a part of March For Our Lives, I worked for a legislative resolution addressing the mental health crisis and urging local measures to mitigate suicide risks. As a member of student council, I worked to make sure students felt included in their school community and had someone they could talk to. On the school board, I will not stop making mental health a priority.
In a state where education is so underfunded, it is difficult to provide these needed resources to schools (which is why I am a big proponent of the Quality Education Act). On the school board, I will work for increased funding for school counselors and mental health professionals in the budgeting process and the 2024 school bond. I will assemble a task force of teachers, staff professionals, and community members to address the rising mental health needs of Boise's students. I will work to provide opportunities for teachers to include conversations about mental health in the classroom. Because I've seen the effects that adverse mental health can have, I will not stop fighting until my peers stop dying.