Health Officials Hold Student Mental Health Roundtable in Traverse City

Student mental health.

It’s long been an issue, but now it’s finally getting the attention and support it needs.

Officials, including the state health director, met with students and parents to hear directly from them what they are experiencing and what they need to help Thursday morning in Traverse City. The hundreds of millions of dollars invested in a solution, will not help if they aren’t being spent in the right spots.Mental Helath Funding Pkg 10 6 2200 00 19 09still001

Mental health it’s a very vague topic, it could mean many things but it is used often to explain what money is spent on. It’s a lot of money, millions upon millions of dollars, so now as it has been allocated, it’s time to figure out exactly where this money is going and what it is being spent on.

“It will allow us to move forward, it’s the first domino to let us put everything else in place,” said Elizabeth Hertel, the director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

$558 million. It’s a big domino. It’s the additional money the state will spend this year on mental health services for students.

“We know it’s the people, in the communities, who know what they need,” said Hertel, “We need to listen to them and use their voices to develop those policies.”

Thursday, speaking directly to students, Hertel was a part of a roundtable to listen to student needs.

“We are seeing a lot of anxiety and depression in teenagers but we also want to make sure we are addressing substance use disorders and any other concerns they might have,” said Hertel.

The funding will go to counselors, clinics and screenings to help benefit each individual student.

“Students are facing all sorts of challenges, and they were facing them long before the pandemic obviously,” said Sen. Wayne Schmidt, “But the pandemic heightened that awareness of what children and students are going through and the need to put more money towards those issues.”

A student with depression needs different help than one who’s dyslexic. Students can’t be lumped together under one umbrella, mental health struggles aren’t new but they are much more well known.

“The students today said it best when they said that they are not going to sit silent,” said Ty Curtis of the Youth Health and Wellness Center, “They are telling us they are struggling and they need help.”

This isn’t the first year of boosted funding and won’t be the last but as the environment is created to support students, the key will be to keep it up and running.

“I think that will only improve,” said Hertel, “That access will only improve the longer we’re able to make these investments.”