Parents in New York and across the U.S. want to see schools improve kid’s mental health, a recent survey found.
The National PTA Survey showed 72% of parents support schools providing mental health services for students.
New York’s recently passed 2024 budget allocates $50 million to expand mental health services for school-aged children, and to fund school-based mental health services.
Dr. Kathleen Ethier, director of adolescent and school health at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said at a National PTA town hall, communication between schools and families is key to improving youth mental health.
“Parents can really increase schools’ understanding of challenges facing students, identify potential gaps in support, act as champions as needed for school based services and supports,” Ethier pointed out. “But, that’s really why it’s so important to strengthen those positive relationships between schools and families.”
She emphasized it broadens the community of support for students, which cannot some soon enough for New York. The CDC’s 2023 Youth Risk Behavior Survey showed poor mental health and suicidality in students increased between 2011 and 2021. In the same period, almost 60% of female students and nearly 70% of LGBTQ+ students reported feelings of sadness or hopelessness.
The National PTA’s survey also found 55% of parents feel comfortable being involved in a meeting between their child and a school staff member to discuss their child’s mental health issues, and 75% of parents want to be more involved in helping improve their child’s mental health.
Miguel Cardona, U.S. Secretary of Education, said it is true for people across the country.
“Despite wide geographical and political differences, we all agree on one thing, we’ve got to make sure our kids are safe,” Cardona stressed. “We’ve got to make sure they’re supported and that they feel connected to school.”
The survey also noted parents want educators to be trained in trauma-informed care. New York State’s legislature has considered a bill requiring training for teachers, in a measure which has been introduced each year since 2019. This year’s version awaits action by the Senate Education Committee in Albany.
Edwin is a reporter and producer in North Tonawanda, New York. He’s previously reported for the Niagara Gazette and the Ithaca Times. Edwin got an early start in radio interning for WBFO-88.7FM, NPR’s Buffalo affiliate. In 2018, he graduated from SUNY Buffalo State College with a B.A. in Journalism, and in 2022, graduated from Syracuse University with an M.S. in Communications.