Dear Legislators, please consider mental health needs in schools

The following speech was given to our FL Reps.  Michael Grant and Spencer Roach and FL Sen. Ben Albritton at the Charlotte County Legislative Delegation meeting in Punta Gorda on Jan 11, 2023. It was written by Charlotte County Democrats member, Maria Metge.

Research has shown that exposure to trauma in childhood significantly impacts children through adulthood.  This means that the Covid pandemic, Hurricane Ian, hunger, homelessness, exposure to gun violence and other trauma may affect academic progress, school attendance, interactions with the justice system, depression, and anxiety.

To combat these negative affects, please consider the following:

  1. Mandate that school guidance counselors at all grade levels be free from administrative tasks such as managing standardized testing. Their primary role would be delivering counseling services to students, staff, and families as needed.
  2. Providing financial incentives to districts to develop programs that can deliver services to children and families at no cost by mental health specialists. These services can be delivered face to face or via tele-health, and
  3. Provide increased funding for mental health awareness and response training to students and school personnel. Promote greater coordination and collaboration between school personnel and community-based mental health service providers.

The Annie E Casey Foundation 2022 Kids Count ranks Florida as 35th nationally in overall health for children.  We can and must do better.


 Image Credits: Texas Public Radio