Seattle students declare ‘victory’ in fight to fund mental health counselors
A group of Seattle students are celebrating “a victory” as $4 million in funds for mental health counselors nears final approval.
The Seattle Student Union calls themselves a “group of students in Seattle Public Schools fighting to improve conditions for students and community in the district and the city.”
The funds got preliminary approval from the Seattle City Council last week, with the final passage expected by Tuesday.
Robin Fleming, Ph.D., an assistant teaching professor at UW Bothell and the co-director of the behavioral health initiative from the UW Bothell School of Nursing and Health Sciences, is one of the faculty members organizing the university’s push for more mental health training in schools.
Fleming used to be a school nurse, years before the pandemic. She said they were already stretched thin before COVID-19, and now, they’re getting overwhelmed.
“School nurses, for many students, are the only health care they get, which is wrong,” Fleming said. “But, it’s a fact, so we need more school nurses. We need more funding for school nurses. We need more funding for mental health counselors.”
We’ve won $4 million for school mental health counselors
— Seattle Student Union (@SeaStudentUnion) November 27, 2022
Thousands of students marched to City Hall on Nov. 14, demanding action following the Ingraham High School shooting that left one student dead.
The students had several demands, including funding for more counselors in schools to address rising rates of depression and anxiety in students.
The students are also asking for an update to the city’s safe storage gun laws, and a ban on assault rifles.
The Student Union tweeted: “This was only possible because thousands of students walked out of school to demand an end to gun violence.”
Students say they’re sick of the violence, and one of the Seattle Public School (SPS) Board’s student representatives, Luna Crone-Baron, tells them more police isn’t the answer.
“What I know is that the way we’re not going to be kept safe is with more police presence in schools. As we’ve seen, more police presence in schools only leads to more violence in schools,” Crone-Baron said. “We do not need more violent police officers violently bullying and harassing students in school. I will never support any policing in schools. Schools should be a place that is automatically safe, where kids are nurtured and loved, and not killed.”
SPS Superintendent Dr. Brent Jones says he plans to form a community action team to help determine what can be immediately done to improve the safety of Seattle’s schools.
“I am ready to do the work, alongside you, to make a tragedy such as this never happens again,” said SPS Superintendent Brent Jones. “Seattle Public Schools is dedicated to providing a safe, welcoming learning environment for our students, families, educators, and staff.”