Student Welfare and Mental Health

According to a WECT report on suicide in the county, New Hanover County’s suicide rate in 2016 was the highest in the southeastern part of North Carolina, far surpassing the surrounding counties. Teachers and administrators are not trained mental health counselors. They can see signs of trouble, however, they do not have the training, experience or license to counsel students on a professional level. There are too few counselors and school social workers in our buildings and students have very little access to mental health care outside of school, especially if they cannot afford it. Anxiety and depression are silent diseases that tear down our students from the inside, many times leading them to make irreversible decisions. I will propose policy to increase access to mental health care professionals for our students. We will either hire an appropriate number of mental health professionals or contract with an outside agency to offer those services our children so desperately need.

The school environment has changed since I was a student. In the 70’s and 80’s we had fire drills and air raid drills. Today’s student faces tornado drills, lock down drills and bomb threat evacuation drills. The recent rash of school and mass shootings across the nation are proof that our students are not as safe and secure as they once were in our schools. Many of these drills are made necessary by the increased incidents of bullying that have become easier as a result of social media. These incidents have been exasperated by the lack of action taken by current and former administrators to address the overall safety and welfare of our students and staff.  I will work with fellow board members who have already begun to address this very troubling situation.