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Governor Shapiro's Budget: What it means for Student Mental Health

Written By: Emilia Peiffer, PSCA Executive Director

Governor Shapiro's budget address on March 7, 2023 was a welcome acknowledgement of the importance of mental health in our schools and our society. In his speech, he emphasized the need for increased funding for mental health services and support, highlighting the significant impact that mental health issues have on students, families, and communities.

The Governor rightly pointed out that mental health is a critical component of overall health and well-being, and that it is essential to address the stigma that surrounds mental health issues. This stigma can prevent people from seeking help when they need it, leading to negative consequences for their mental health and overall quality of life.

To address these issues, Governor Shapiro proposed a series of initiatives that are focused on improving access to mental health services and support. One such initiative is the expansion of mental health services in schools, which would provide students with access to mental health resources and support, as well as training for teachers and staff on how to identify and respond to mental health concerns.

The CDC has found that certain groups of students are at higher risk for mental health concerns, including those who come from low-income families, those who have experienced trauma, and those who belong to marginalized communities. Most concerning is that 3 in 5 girls felt persistently sad and hopeless, a marker for depressive symptoms, in 2021, up nearly 60% from 2011.

To address these concerns, the CDC recommends that schools and communities prioritize student mental health and provide access to mental health resources and support. This includes offering counseling and therapy services, promoting self-care and stress management techniques, and connecting students with mental health professionals as needed. School counselors are readily equipped to provide the tools our students need to support their mental health and emotional development.

Overall, Governor Shapiro's budget address is a positive step forward in addressing the critical issue of mental health in our society. By increasing funding and support for mental health services and initiatives, we can help to break down the stigma that surrounds mental health issues and ensure that students receive the care and support they need to lead healthy, fulfilling lives. We are excited that this administration has made student mental health one of its priorities, and we plan to let them know that #WeNeedMore.

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