The goal of our coalition is to get student voices heard. There is power in numbers, and we hope to use this power to give students a voice. We have discussed approaches to address the mental health crisis with many students, teachers, counselors, etc. across the DMV. Here are some of our platforms we take to represent the students:
Mental Health Days
We hope to establish mental health days, similar to a regular sick day. This is an excused absence for students who need to take a day to maintain their mental health.
Mental health is as serious as physical health, and should be treated as such. Mental Health Days creates a means for students to support and improve their mental health, allowing them to escape the stresses of school. At the same time, they enable a mental health conversation between parents and students, that in many cases was never possible. By establishing a legal acknowledgment for the importance of mental health, it not only facilitates these conversations, but forces parents to also acknowledge the importance of mental health.
This also establishes precautions to limit the abuse of mental health 'sick' days by students. These include a required meeting between student and counselor after a certain number of 'sick' days have been reached.
Mental Health Education
Beyond the skimmed units in health classes and bi-semesterly videos covering the topic, students rarely receive any sufficient, formal mental health education. Knowing how to support your own mental health, warning signs of mental illness, what to do in a crisis, what resources students have access to, among other crucial lessons, are essential in the complex environment of today's high schools.
We seek to implement a Mental Health requirement for high school students, similar to the Health requirement many students have to fulfill to graduate. In the form of a semester long class, students would learn about not only mental health, but wellness techniques, support skills, and other important lessons for life in and out of school.
Re-Apportionment of Funds
According to the 2019 ALCU school discipline report, "14 million students are in schools with police but no counselor, nurse, psychologist, or social worker."
The prioritization of police and other security in schools is an effort to prevent mass school shootings or reduce their toll. However, research indicates school police do not reduce mass shootings. It's crucial to keep in mind that incidents of mass school violence are rare. We believe it is vital to keep students safe, and having law enforcement present is a part of the solution for school safety. But, in order to address mass shootings more structurally, school systems must invest more in school support staff so that students get the attention and quality of care they deserve. Also, investing in school support staff can help prevent schools shootings since some school shooters are a student at the school.
Above everything, we want your voice to be heard. We want to understand your needs and your preferences as students. We need to know your perspective so that we can make the changes that you need.
Let us know your point of view by joining the coalition, joining a meeting, and/or sending a message.