Texas ranked as the worst state regarding access to children’s mental health services, but state leaders are reluctant to take drastic actions to address the problem, reports Texas Standard.
Adolescent depression in Texas is becoming more severe, with suicide rates reaching 12.3 deaths per 100,000 adolescents aged 15 to 19, according to America’s Health Rankings. A 2021 survey revealed that 33% of Texas high school students reported feeling stressed, anxious, or depressed within the previous month, with 22% seriously considering suicide.
To address the problem, schools are beginning to place greater emphasis on mental health awareness. Suicide prevention hotlines are included on student IDs, and teachers are increasingly attentive to their students’ well-being. In some schools, students are being encouraged to discuss mental health issues openly, creating a more supportive environment.
Despite these positive steps, there is a significant shortage of school counselors, with one counselor often serving 500 students. A recent legislative change allowed school districts to employ chaplains as counselors, a move criticized by both religious and counseling communities due to chaplains not being licensed to treat mental health issues.
As Texas lawmakers convene for a special legislative session, school funding will be the primary focus, but the urgent need for enhanced mental health services for students cannot be ignored. Texas must prioritize the mental well-being of its youngest citizens and take steps to build a comprehensive support system within its schools.