Mental Health Support in High Schools

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Mental health has only recently become a topic that is now considered acceptable to talk about, change is happening because of people who have come forward about a collective need for support in this field. As students of Forest Lawn High School and its supporters from Calgary, Alberta we are acknowledging the exponentially rising need for mental health support in high schools across Canada and with the recent passing of friends, the need has become very apparent in our school specifically. We are asking for the recognition of this need from Calgary Board of Education and are specifically requesting action be taken. We are asking that CBE employ a designated therapist for each school district at the very least.

In a recent study we have discovered just how many of us need help, as of 2017 17% of reported students have had thoughts of committing suicide, 7% acted on those thoughts and 2.4% required medical attention. Those statistics go up even further within minority populations and forest lawn is now a majority minority school. I am in my grade 11 year and since I started high school I personally know 2 people who have committed suicide, I also personally struggle with anxiety and depression and know for a fact I'm not the only one. Mental health services are nearly impossible to attain at my age with cost, location, and availability limiting my choices significantly. 

Mental health issues greatly effect and limit options once we finish high school. Nationally only 40% of students with emotional, behavioral, and mental health disorders graduate high school and over over 50% of the students with the same struggles drop out of high school. In Forest Lawn specifically the graduation rate was reported to be only 45.2% in 2018. My struggle with depression and anxiety have caused at times great distress around school. Coming from a low income household I don't have access to therapists that charge for their sessions so I was forced to resort to other avenues. I was put on a 3 month wait list with a community therapist and only granted 8 sessions. I have been struggling with depression and anxiety for years and 8 sessions, in my case, won't help me long term. I am not the only student who deals with these struggles. 

These are the reasons many students believe in the need for more easily, accessible, and affordable help.