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.
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.