Oregon must increase mental health funding to support struggling students

Feb 1, 2019

Everyone who attends one of the town halls organized by Oregonians for Student Success receives a sheet with round, blue stickers. Their instructions: Put a sticker (or stickers) on the poster that reflects your top education priorities.

Among the posters at our recent Salem Town Hall:

  • Expand career and technical education
  • Raise graduation rates
  • Improve support and mental health services for students

The mental health poster immediately caught Whitney Oliver’s attention. And that’s where she put her stickers. Every single one of them.

“At my school this is what impacts students the most,” said Oliver, who teaches special education in Salem.

Oliver says she often sees students who are struggling with mental health issues that are so acute, “they can’t get through a day of learning.”

She wants the Oregon Legislature to increase funding for schools by $2 billion in the state’s next two-year budget. And she very much wants to see some of those dollars spent to help students and their families cope with serious mental health issues.

Oliver is not alone. Legislators appointed to the 2018 Joint Committee on Student Success spent several months last year touring schools across the state. In communities large and small they heard about students who are struggling emotionally and psychologically. Teachers told legislators about “classroom clearing” disruptions from students struggling with depression and thoughts of suicide.

If you, like Oliver, believe it’s important for Oregon to invest more in school mental health and counseling programs, please take a minute to email your legislator. Oregonians for Student Success has made it easy by visiting this link: https://actnow.io/6PpvICh

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