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Childhood mental health is in crisis in Texas and across the nation. During the Texas Legislature’s 2023 session, lawmakers are considering several bills that would expand access to mental health services for children by making it easier and more cost-effective for schools to provide this type of healthcare on site.
Over the past two decades, the rate of Texas children who have felt hopeless, struggled with anxiety or depression, or experienced suicidal ideation has been rising. In Texas, the high school suicide rate is 66% higher than the national average. Mental health conditions often manifest by age 14, and the stress of the pandemic exacerbated mental health symptoms for many students. In 2021, nearly 65% of Texans ages 12-17 who experienced depression did not receive any care.
Lack of access to mental healthcare can create barriers to learning for students experiencing trauma, stress or other difficult life events. Trauma and stress are also associated with difficulty concentrating, poor memory, lower motivation and strained decision-making.
Alternatively, students who are emotionally and mentally well are more engaged in learning. The potential increase in mental health needs for school-aged children and decreased school performance in those who do not have access to treatment makes schools an ideal entry point for mental health services.
Several bills are up for consideration that would expand mental health services in Texas schools:
Learn more about school mental health services.
We’ll be watching this legislation throughout the session. Check back here for important updates as these bills advance through the legislative process.
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