The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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April 24, 2014

Let's invest in children's mental health

Minnesota is doing the right thing by providing some mental health services in schools, but we can and must do better.

An estimated five million children in the United States face mental health challenges, yet about two-thirds of these children do not presently receive needed services due to the high costs and limited availability of services in many communities.

Since mental health issues often appear for the first time in adolescence, school-based mental health services is the most favorable setting for youth development strategies, social and emotional learning and behavioral modeling.

Schools are in an ideal position to identify emerging warning signs of mental illness and allow for more active supervision and behavioral management of students, even in non-classroom settings.

The school environment is also more conducive to effective team planning and problem solving through school-wide staff training.

Positive benefits of these programs include improved grades, greater educational stability, enhanced emotional and behavioral health, decreased suicide attempts and a reduction in future long-term health care costs.

Minnesota School-Linked Mental Health Grant Program provides financial assistance to community mental health providers allowing them to provide services in the schools.

It is vital that school boards and administrators be aware of these services and that our legislators continue to emphasize funding for this important program.

Mental health is too important an issue to be ignored.

It is essential that we invest in our children through implementation and support of these critical school-based programs.

Speak with your local school administrators or community mental health service providers to inquire how the youth in your community can benefit from school-linked mental health services.

Chris Moylan

Tara Mershon

Mankato

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