Mayling Simpson

Statement on support for mental and behavioral health for school children For Mental Health Colorado:

Mayling Simpson, June 23, 2020

Education is a key tool for healthier minds. Public schools are the perfect environment for fostering healthy minds and behaviors.

I support the training of all teachers in the mental and behavioral health of children. My first year teaching high school, I had two students with mental health issues, and I had no training in how to deal with them. Thus, I know first-hand how important training can be. Teachers should be equipped to recognize mental health needs and know when a referral is necessary. They should also know how to deal with a mental health crisis in the classroom. I support the School Mental Health Tool Kit (2018) developed by the Colorado Foundation for Mental Health and ten hours of teacher training in children’s mental health for certification.

I oppose having police presence in schools or calling on police to arrest children for misbehaving and then channeling through the criminal justice system. This is a completely inappropriate way to deal with student behavioral issues. Research shows that police presence in schools leads to more suspensions and arrests of children age 7-14 and poorer academic performance of high school students (see Chalkbeat Colorado June 23, 2020).

I support schools to have sufficient numbers of counselors and social workers to identify and address mental and behavioral health problems at school. The reason we have insufficient counselors and social workers is simply not enough funding. We need to change that.

Helping children to develop healthy minds and socially acceptable behaviors should begin at preschool. For some children whose home environments are not conducive to healthy development, schools are the most important place of mental development. I support public preschool education for all children from age 3.

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