Mental illness in children on the rise: Minnesota Legislators create bills to try and support the demand for help

Published: Mar. 2, 2022 at 6:32 PM CST
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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) – Mental illness in children and the demand for professional resources are on the rise as we approach two full years of the COVID-19 pandemic. Wednesday, some members of The Minnesota House of Representatives presented legislation in an effort to support this.

“There’s been a real upsurge in mental health challenges among our youth,” said Rep. Kelly Morrison (DFL).

The COVID-19 pandemic plays a large role in this rise of mental illness in children according to Morrison. Due to increased isolation, distance learning, masking and the sickness itself.

“There is just a real need for more support for our students,” said Morrison.

Representative Morrison’s bill aims to fill this need by requiring mental health screenings for all students K-12 in Minnesota schools.

“And then provides an adjust in the general revenue formula for funding schools to accommodate two mental health support staff per 2,000 or fewer students per school,” said Morrison.

Morrison’s counterparts in The House see some issues with the bill, though.

“How the formula will work, I think could bring about some real disparities among districts,” said Rep. Sondra Erickson (R).

Many are calling for a closer look at the funding portion as well as potentially looking at giving parents the option to opt in rather than opt out.

“When you opt in and parents are notified, parents don’t always read those forms. I mean I experienced that so much when I was in the classroom. I was instructed to send these forms home with my students and these were high school students,” said Erickson.

There is an increased need here in Rochester as well.

“Increased need is definitely there post-COVID, during, I should say as we have endured this pandemic and specifically will be needed going forward,” said RPS Interim Director of Student Services Kori Grimsrud.

With clear bipartisan support for more mental health resources in schools, Rep. Morrison’s bill will go on to the Education Finance Session for more discussion on the funding aspect of the bill.

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