OSPI: Survey of students shows need for Mental Health supports

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Chris Reykdal, SPI
From the State Superintendent of Public Schools

Last week, the state released data from a statewide survey of students in grades 6, 8, 10, and 12. The students voluntarily answer questions regarding their health behaviors. The data is used to guide policymaking, funding, and program changes at the state and local levels.

OLYMPIA—March 28, 2019—Plans for suicide. No one to turn to for help. Disconnect between schoolwork and life goals. Sexual assault. Bullying.

Each day, students across the state go through these experiences and emotions. And each year, the number of students with these experiences increases.

“Our students need more support at school,” said Chris Reykdal, Superintendent of Public Instruction. 
“Whether it’s increased access to a counselor, multiple pathways to high school graduation, or education about consent – our students are telling us what they need, and we have a responsibility to act on it.”
“When determining priorities for our budget and policy proposals for the Legislature and the Governor this year, we used data from the 2016 Healthy Youth Survey as well as from a 2018 survey of more than 30,000 Washingtonians about their education priorities,” Reykdal continued. 
“This new data shows us students need support now more than ever.”

With just a month left in the legislative session, legislators are passing bills and putting together budgets.

“Budgets are an expression of values,” said Reykdal. “I know policymakers value student health, safety, and access to a meaningful diploma. I sincerely hope they will use this important data from students in their final decision-making.”

Mental health and bullying

In 2018, students at the grade levels surveyed reported higher rates of having seriously considered suicide than was reported in 2016. In addition, only about half of students in grades 8, 10, and 12 report having an adult to turn to when they feel sad or hopeless.

Beyond that, in 2014, 2016, and 2018, about 1 in 5 high school students reported being bullied at school. For students in grades 6 and 8, it was nearly 1 in 3.

When asked if they have had contact with a counselor at school within the last year, over half of 8th grade students and nearly half of 10th grade students said they did not.

To help combat this, the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) has proposed the Legislature increase the number of middle school counselors and create a coordinated statewide suicide prevention and behavioral health system.


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