Last week, over 190 students and health center advocates traveled to Lansing for SCHA-MI’s Youth Advocacy Day. The timing could not have been more perfect, as May recognizes Mental Health Awareness Month across the nation. We spoke with dozens of legislators about the importance of mental health as a key component in making schools safe. Every Legislator that we visited, regardless of their political party, location, or demographic, seemed to take our message to heart and recognized the importance of mental health as a vital part of school safety.
Before Advocacy Day, we asked students a to tell us what makes them feel safe in schools and why mental health is a part of school safety. Here were there responses:
“School Safety means students are safe from violence, bullying, harassment, and substance use.” -Kendra Kyles, Benton Harbor High School
“School Safety in my definition means that every student and staff member should feel completely welcomed and comfortable when they attend school. Mental Health makes schools safer because when everyone has good mental health, they come to school with a positive attitude and an intent to learn” -Le’Andra Cornelious, Benton Harbor High School
“Safety means that you can be in an environment that you are able to be confident and learn without worrying about your safety. Mental health makes schools safer by being able to see dangerous signs that something might not be right.” -Cole Harger, Oakridge High School
“School safety means knowing that I don’t have to worry about staying safe in school when I should be learning. Mental health gives kids a place to go to talk about their feelings, which will hopefully stop a “disaster”. -Madison Sahagun-Bisson, Oakridge High School
“To stand by or protect someone who is being hurt or bullied by another person. Mental health makes school safer by everyone on the right mindset – thing will flow great and no one will get harmed.”
-Mattellione Burke, Arthur Hill High School