Health professionals declare national emergency in children’s mental health

San Antonio ISD students are also stepping up to support mental health

San Antonio – Children are raising their voice about the need for mental health support and adults are listening. A group of health professionals are joining to declare a national state of emergency in children’s mental health.

The U.S. Secretary of Education has also issued new guidelines on how school districts can better serve students. At the top of the list is prioritizing wellness for students, educators and providers, and enhancing education around mental health to reduce the stigma.

U.S. Department of Education issued new guidelines for school districts to address mental health. (Copyright 2021 by KSAT - All rights reserved.)

The American Academy of Pediatrics, The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and the Children’s Hospital Association are joining to declare a national state of emergency in children’s mental health. They are asking to declare federal funding to help families with a focus on the underserved communities. They also are looking to improve access to technology to continue telemedicine as well as a list of other requests.

The strongest declarations are coming from students facing the challenges first hand and leading the way to help others. Joseph Gonzalez was recognized by the San Antonio ISD Board on Monday for his “Jefferson into Light” campaign.

“The intention was to spread awareness of suicide and to help bring the community together,” he said.

Gonzalez led a group of about 70 students on an early morning walk at Jefferson High School to break the taboo of mental health.

“It’s always taboo to talk about and you’re always made to think that if you do experience those things, that it makes you weak or selfish. And, I just wanted to do my part in making sure that people know that that’s not the case,” he said. “We started before the sun came up, and then we walked into the dawn to kind of symbolize people coming out of the darkness in their light.”

SAISD says they are making strides to educate staff and teachers who are on the front line of the situation, to see the flags and intervene by guiding students to resources.

Their biggest challenge is that every child has different needs and there’s not a one solution solves all approach.

About the Authors:

Patty Santos joined the KSAT 12 News team in July 2017. She has a proven track record of reporting on hard-hitting news that affects the community.

Gavin Nesbitt is a photojournalist and video editor who joined KSAT in September 2021. He has traveled across the great state of Texas to film, conduct interviews and edit many major news stories, including the White Settlement church shooting, Hurricane Hanna, 2020 presidential campaigns, Texas border coverage and the Spurs.