OSSINING, N.Y. -- The Ossining Daily Voice accepts signed letters to the editor. Send letters to firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Dec. 14, 2012, 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut were fatally shot. This will be a day that will pain Americans for many years to come.
As we remember this tragic day, we also remember that it was not the first and has not been the last fatal school shooting. Violent, tragic incidents, like the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings, have left many concerned that if mental health is not urgently addressed, many lives will continue to be damaged and lost.
When a traumatic event occurs, the discussions regarding mental health problems are abundant; however, there has not been a sustained response or a plan of action to identify mental health problems in youth and implement the necessary interventions.
The Mental Health in Schools Act 2013, H.R. Bill 628, needs to be a priority for consideration; a community cannot afford to wait for tragedy to occur.
Mental health programs in school are important because they will help to identify mental illness earlier on, target children when more interventions are available, promote emotional and behavioral wellness, and facilitate student engagement.
If school professionals can be trained to identify early signs of mental illness (Mental Health in Schools Act of 2013, lines 10-12), and if schools establish more comprehensive mental health programs (Mental Health in Schools Act of 2013, lines 6-9), many of these children would receive the attention and support that they need.
Violence in schools is another problem that will be targeted. According to the 2009 SAMHSA Report on the Safe Schools-Healthy Student Initiative 2005 Key Findings, the number of students involved in violent incidents decreased by 15% within three years of instating mental health programs.
Without dedicated advocacy and community awareness, the Act will not receive the attention and consideration it deserves. Please support H.R. Bill 628 The Mental Health in Schools Act 2013 by contacting Congresswoman Nita Lowey. You can track information on this bill here.