Leading into the 86th legislative session, there were a number of events that attributed to the attention given to mental health and safety in schools. Recent tragedies in Texas, including Hurricane Harvey and the Santa Fe High School shooting, emphasized the need to explore how to best support all students, their teachers, and the school system in its entirety. While most children in our schools are not living with a serious emotional disturbance or a diagnosed mental health condition, many may be struggling to achieve mental well-being. Moreover, Texas children are turning inward and harming themselves; 1 out of 8 Texas high school students reported attempting suicide last year, almost twice the national average.
Much work was started by lawmakers, advocates, and other stakeholders during the 86th legislative session that addressed the intersection of public schools and mental health. As policies are implemented, policy makers and advocates should continue to look down the road about how to continue the work to support students, teachers, and schools.
This policy brief is offered to help a variety of stakeholders better understand the array of changes generated by the recent legislation.