County Council At-Large Candidate Calls for County to Secure Funding, Resources to Help Schools, Teachers Combat Mental Health
(PITTSBURGH, PA) Feb. 28 As mental health becomes the leading comorbidity in countywide zip codes – Allegheny County Council At-Large Candidate Joanna Doven today called for the creation of a county-led task force that ensures every county school student has access to mental health support at school. According to a recent Pennsylvania School Board Association’s State of Education report, over eight of 10 superintendents reported student mental health issues as being the biggest instructional challenge facing schools.
“Post Covid, our young people are suffering with significant emotional needs and increasingly resort to substance use, gun violence and suicide,” said Doven, noting a recent Pennsylvania School Board Association’s State of Education report that flagged mental health as the top challenge faced by teachers and students alike. “This is the third straight year the report flagged mental health as schools’ top challenge. Our County Council must lead on the top issues that all residents across all races and zip codes face – and that is mental health.”
A recent report from the Pennsylvania State Auditor General’s Office noted that peer harassment and violence, namely due to social media, have increased the physical, mental, social, and emotional needs of students which have not been met with increased capacity or resources. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, teens experienced a 31% increase in mental health-related emergency department visits in 2020. While suicide is the 12th cause of death for adults, it’s now the second leading cause of death for youth aged 10-14. Lesbian, gay and bisexual youth are nearly 4x more likely to attempt suicide than straight youth
Doven called for Allegheny County Council to create the task force at their next meeting with the goal of identifying best practice models nationally and appointing members across the education, behavioral health, nonprofit and corporate sectors. Doven worked as a senior mayor’s office staffer when The Pittsburgh Promise scholarship program was conceived and offered to volunteer in helping get the effort off of the ground. The program raised $100 million to send Pittsburgh Public School graduates to college.