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Kentucky students urge lawmakers to expand mental health resources in schools

The students led a mental health panel in Frankfort, explaining to lawmakers where resources are falling short.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Students from across Kentucky shared their concerns with lawmakers about mental health and where the state’s resources are falling short.

Lt. Governor Jacqueline Coleman helps lead panels with the student ambassadors. Several in attendance were seniors who attend high school in Jefferson County.

The students set up 10 events across the state where young people could learn about counseling and resources available to them.

They were surveyed about what schools can do to help the growing mental health crisis.

Their underlying message was simple – students feel maxed out and overwhelmed.

In 2018, the CDC reported one in five children had a mental health disorder of some kind.

During the past two years, the number of diagnosed children increased by 21%.

The pandemic affected almost everyone’s mental health. It made people unmotivated, more stressed and anxious.

Students who lived in poverty reported even higher rates – 46% of them feeling depressed. Many of them said that stability plays a major role in mental health, but they aren’t getting the kind of education that resonates and they don’t think they are being heard.

“A lot of times students really aren't seen as experts in their own educations, even though they are at school, five days a week, seven hours a day.”

The student ambassadors came up with recommendations for lawmakers which include:

  • Providing comprehensive suicide prevention in schools including trained counselors available for students on campus.
  • Allow excused mental health days
  • Expand mental health treatment and resources inside schools
  • Include education about what mental health is and the signs kids can look for in their peers
  • Educate staff and teachers about how they can help students who may be struggling.

Lawmakers will take the recommendations into consideration.

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