After years of begging for resources, the Florida Legislature granted Central Florida schools millions of dollars to spend on mental health services in schools. All of this was impacted and pushed forward by the Parkland Shooting that left 17 people dead. Each district is increasing its number of mental health professionals and counselors: providing training on warning signs and educational sessions.
The law also provides $69 million to expand school based mental health care with the expectation that every student in the state will have access to proper care.
“I know it’s because of this great tragedy,” says Kristine Landry, an educational psychologists for Lake County schools, who also received an extra $1,044,000, “but if it helps brings mental health services to the schools, we can make those death mean something.”
Teachers are ecstatic by the news that mental health was finally being acknowledged in schools, especially since 50% of all mental illness’s begin by age 14 and 75% by age 24. But parents will always have their concerns.
Parents are concerned that if they do check the ‘yes’ box and disclose their child’s mental health history (providing a description of what the issue is and whether or not they have received treatment) that their child will be treated differently from the other students. Some districts will only provide information to psychologists and administrations. Other grant access to teachers and front office staff.
Rachel Alverez states how she feels, short and clearly. “It’s none of the districts business.”
Laura Goodhue has a hard time believing that this is an actual thing. Her biggest concern was if she does check ‘yes’ what is the school going to do about it. It raised red flags when she talked to other moms.
The question regarding mental health history was grouped around questions regarding reports for arrest and school punishments such as suspensions and expulsions. Teachers say that they understand the stigma around mental health but that’s not all they are worried about. The state left the implementation of provisions up to the school board leaders.
April Griffin, a Hillsborough County School Board member, says that she thinks there is a lawsuit waiting to happen.
Counselors say that parents will start to come around to the idea once they see their children getting the help they need.