Pennsylvania’s Governor Josh Shapiro announced his plans for investment in better mental health support services for students. In the wake of international recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, Shapiro sat down with students to hear directly from them how it has been on their mental health.
The governor sat down with about twenty students from Hempfield Area High School and listened as they shared their stories and personal struggles with mental health.
Speaking on the experience, Shapiro shared, “What is clear from the conversation that I had with this group of students and others across Pennsylvania is that they are asking for our help. In fact, many of them are crying out for our help and I believe we need to be there for them. Not just here in Hempfield but in every school and every county across Pennsylvania.”
This discussion comes after reports released by the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention showed that teens felt sadness and hopelessness more than ever during the pandemic. The CDC began tracking this information back in 2011.
In the era of online school, in 2021, 42% of students said they felt persistently sad or hopeless. Nearly 29% described their experience as suffering from poor mental health and a concerning 22% of students expressed that they had at least once genuinely considered suicide. Teen girls and LGBTQ+ teens experienced higher rates of poor mental health, with 57% of girls and 52% of LGBTQ+ youth feeling persistently sad and/or hopeless.
The CDC found that 1 in 5 teens attempted suicide in 2021.
High School junior, Nick Miller, said in the discussion with the governor, “We are in crisis. As a 17-year-old high school student who has personally experienced struggles with mental health and has seen so many others experience them I say with urgency that the mental health crisis in American teens needs to be addressed immediately.”
To combat these alarming numbers and help the young people of his state Governor Shapiro has announced a plan to invest in better mental health support in schools. The plan consists of sending $500 million to school districts over the next 5 years to better their mental health programs. The plan will also include $20 million going to the county mental health fund to help build support outside of school as well.
Students offered further suggestions to the governor during their meeting, suggesting things like later start times. Shapiro talked proudly about all of the tips and bolstered the importance of really taking them all into consideration.