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Mental Health

Research Shows Tennessee’s Children Lack Mental, Emotional Support

— February 9, 2024

On-site school mental health resources and support should be more readily available through targeted funding efforts.

The realities of youth mean that young people are subjected to many different emotions throughout each day. It can feel like a rollercoaster trying to ride out the various ways that a person feels when they are in their adolescent stage, and the constant interaction with others of the same age – usually at school – can make things even worse. Support from trained adults is tremendously helpful, but sadly, Tennessee’s students and those in other locations are struggling to gain access to such support.

In many ways, the emotional challenges that children face mimic what is commonly seen in older people. However, it’s often the case that younger people don’t yet have the coping skills to successfully deal with things like depression, anxiety, questions about gender or sexual orientation, and more. There was already an issue in place here for young people and it only seems to have been heightened by the pandemic.

First and foremost, action should be taken because it is in the best interests of these young people to get help. Additionally, there is a connection between social-emotional competency development and academic performance. In other words, the better a child is doing in terms of mental health, the better that same child tends to do in the classroom. That might not be a surprising correlation, but it is important to note, nonetheless.

Research Shows Tennessee's Children Lack Mental, Emotional Support
Photo by Keira Burton from Pexels

The value of mental health support for young people hasn’t gone unnoticed and there are plenty of groups and organizations that are working to make resources available to as many students in possible – both in Tennessee’s schools and elsewhere around the country. One such organization, called STARS, has seen school-based therapy increase throughout Tennessee in recent years.

The value of on-site therapy and counseling is that it can help to get around known issues that will prevent some young people from getting health. When provided at school, issues like transportation, cost, and access are no longer a barrier, and these students may be able to get professional help for the first time in their lives. This kind of progress is certainly encouraging, but it’s far from the end of the story. There is a lot more room for improvement until a point is reached where every student who wants to seek help is able to get that assistance easily at their school.

It shouldn’t be controversial to allocate funds to get young people the help they need at this stage of life. Supporting young people who need help with social and emotional issues is a great step toward achieving better outcomes later on, and that’s something that benefits everyone across the board. With any luck, mental health support for students will start to be seen as just as important as things like learning how to read and write. The adult mental health crisis is well-known and widespread, but it may be possible to impact the next generation positively by offering strong support across the board.


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