In the past few years, the need for mental health services among K-12 students has surged in Connecticut. As our country slowly begins to emerge from a pandemic that forever changed our society, the stress of COVID 19 has resulted in an unprecedented spike in mental health conditions among K-12 children.
Research has shown that increasing services in schools is one of the most accessible and equitable ways to address this crisis in Connecticut. This is exactly what S.B. 1, An Act Concerning Childhood Mental and Physical Health Services in Schools, will do. Among the many focuses of the bill, passing S.B. 1 would help schools hire social workers in Connecticut public schools, providing students with increased access to high-quality mental health resources.
Recognizing the mental health crisis among students, other states nationwide have passed their own bills creating and providing grants to increase mental health resources to students. The Oklahoma State Department of Education created a grant program similar to S.B. 1 that provided funding to hire school counselors. The New York City Department of Education has hired over 450 new social workers since 2021, providing each school with at least one full-time social worker or mental health clinic. The New Hampshire, Iowa, and Arizona Departments of Education have also all passed similar policies.
Like many other states, Connecticut has dedicated considerable efforts to tackling the mental health crisis. Towards the end of 2021, Gov. Ned Lamont launched a 2.7-million-dollar program that would increase mental health services in higher-level institutions. Estimates showed that this program would help over 130,000 college students across Connecticut’s many college campuses.
S.B. 1 has the potential to provide these same resources for K-12 students, in addition to promoting mental health initiatives especially targeted towards student-athletes, physical health resources and training for staff, and so much more.
Linda Youn is a first-year student at Yale University and a member of Yale College Democrats