In an effort to better understand and support the needs in our community, the Board of Directors proclaimed May 2021 as Mental Health Awareness Month in Tacoma Public Schools.
With this proclamation, board members call on the greater Tacoma community to support both mental illness prevention and treatment for those who need it.
Within the past four years, emergency room visits for children with a primary diagnosis of behavioral or mental health conditions have risen by 400% at Tacoma’s Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital.
The pandemic is adding to the toll. According to data from the Washington State Department of Health, mental health-related visits to emergency departments for children ages 5-17 between April and October of 2020 increased by 24-31%, compared with the same time period in 2019.
In Tacoma schools, a fall student survey showed above normal instances of grief (38%), loneliness (25%), and requests for help handling large emotions (33%).
Resources are being dedicated to the issue. Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital recently received $400,000 to help TPS students 13 and older at risk of a behavior or mental health crisis; the money is part of an $8.1 million package of federal emergency funds distributed by the Office of the State of Public Instruction. In this case, it supports teams of licensed mental health professionals who will provide assessment, counseling, case management and other services to students recommended by TPS staff.
TPS encourages understanding of mental health issues especially in May, but ultimately every day of the year.
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