DFL Senators along with DFL House legislators, students, and education professionals held a press conference this week to raise awareness of the mental health crisis in Minnesota schools and to advocate for greater school-based support for students struggling with mental health issues.
Their message was clear: it’s time for Minnesota to implement comprehensive legislation to protect students by adding teacher training on what to look for and how to deal with mental health issues and providing support and resources to deal with mental health issues.
Far too many young people are suffering from mental health issues. According to a 2019 Minnesota Student Survey, 23% of students surveyed admitted to struggling with mental health concerns. Because discussion and treatment on this topic are stigmatized, many students lack the support they need to develop into well-adjusted adults with a strong emotional foundation. Unfortunately, Minnesota has one of the lowest counselor to student ratios in the nation.
The legislators unveiled two bills to address this problem. Under one bill, all teachers would be required to receive training on key warning signs of early-onset mental illness in children and adolescents, at least one hour of suicide prevention best practices training, and a trauma-informed approach to teaching when they renew their license.
The second bill to improve Minnesota’s mental health for students would create a position within the Minnesota Department of Education that would be responsible for implementing an evidence-based approach to suicide prevention in schools and provide resources, tools, and procedures to help better serve Minnesota students. (SF 3236) (SF 3069)