Advocates promote mental health awareness in Kansas schools

Capitol Bureau

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – Dozens of counselors, psychologists, and social workers met at the capitol for School Mental Health Awareness Day on Thursday.

They said the needs of kids are growing. Advocates said students are dealing with issues at a younger age, including pressures of social media, use of drugs, and thoughts of suicide.

Conversations with mental health professionals can help students deal with problems and improve academics as well as their social and emotional learning.

Alicia Jackson is a counselor for Olathe Public Schools and president for the Kansas School Counseling Association. She said today’s students are helping get rid of the stigma behind mental health.

“As adults, I think we can take huge lessons from our kids because they are comfortable talking about mental health,” Jackson said.

She said it’s important to talk with everyone, including kids, teachers, and parents.

“When everybody is at the same table listening to each other, it’s best for kids,” Jackson said. “I think as school counselors, that’s a huge strength for us is to build bridges between different groups of people in order to support kids’ mental health.”

The group talked with lawmakers to advocate funding and get more counselors in schools.

She said it’s important to continue the mental health conversation in schools.

“Listening to our kids and really sitting down and having meaningful, non-judgmental conversations about their needs and how we can support them,” Jackson said.

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