After a year of remote learning, social isolation, learning loss, and struggling through a pandemic, our children’s mental health has suffered.
As the mother of two young kids in the Boston Public School district, I’ve seen them struggle with feelings of loss, anxiety, sadness, and despair, all while trying to keep up with their schooling. I am one of the many working mothers who struggled as well and ultimately left the workforce so that I could better support our kids through the pandemic.
With the recent announcement that BPS will receive $400 million in federal money designed to support our children’s well-being, we must prioritize funds to provide for greater access to affordable mental health services for our young learners. This is needed to address issues of learning loss and equity.
This past year, when we tried to get my son counseling at school, we learned that there was no longer an on-site school counselor and that we would have to seek one off-site partnered with the school. We also learned that we would need our health insurance to cover costs or pay out of pocket. Any follow-up discussion with a parent would be charged as a full session. We waded through 80-plus pages of documents and had to complete an intake session before our son could receive counseling. Even then, counseling would be temporary, limited, and inconsistent.
I am an attorney familiar with navigating bureaucracy and someone who comes from a place of relative privilege. It shouldn’t be this hard to get our kids the mental health support they need at school if we want them to safely return to school and thrive. All families deserve greater access to mental health services and counseling.
BPS just began a public engagement process and will hold virtual meetings and provide a 30-day public comment period, from July 1 to July 30, for families to provide feedback on how to best utilize federal funds. At last week’s Community Meeting, BPS acknowledged that over 200 family survey responses call for better mental health services for students. BPS needs to hear from families like ours that greater access to better mental health services is essential. For the sake of my children and others, please make your voice heard.