Oregon’s Joint Interim Committee on Student Success spent several months in 2018 touring the state and listening to students, parents, educators and concerned community members about what our schools need. A common theme in both rural and urban districts: We need more mental health programs.

As Oregon Public Radio reported, “Legislators said they heard about students struggling psychologically and emotionally at virtually every community and every school they visited from ‘classroom clearing’ disruptions among the state’s youngest students to high schoolers dealing with depression and thoughts of suicide.”

About 1 in 5 youths nationwide is affected by some type of mental disorder, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Yet in Oregon families often have to wait months to get help for their children.

We have a responsibility to support our students with the resources they need to be healthy so they can focus on learning and their futures.

Too many students are being left behind because serious issues, such as mental health, go unaddressed. Battling a mental illness can reduce students’ odds of completing their education, increase their likelihood of ending up unemployed and adding long-term financial impact on their communities.

This is a critical reason why we need to fully fund schools so we can get students the help they deserve.

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