Ky. lawmakers hear from students about importance of mental health

A big topic for the committee was the student mental health initiative.
Published: Aug. 16, 2022 at 5:08 PM EDT
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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WKYT) - School is starting up again across the commonwealth.

That brings with it a set of responsibilities and stress for students. Tuesday morning in Frankfort, a committee of lawmakers heard from students about the importance of mental health.

A big topic for the committee was the student mental health initiative. Students from all over Kentucky came together to research and propose ideas to help make a change.

A group of students, led by Lieutenant Governor Jacqueline Coleman, sat in front of committee members to share their commitment to changing the mental health stigma.

Coleman says, without these students, this initiative wouldn’t be the same.

“As we see all of the studies and recommendations that come out at the national level from medical experts, we are also hearing from our student experts, a lot of those things jive,” said Lt. Gov. Coleman.

They introduced recommendations and even created surveys for their classmates, so they can figure out what resources are needed most. One of those resources is six excused mental health absences.

“We want to add those six days so that students don’t have to go to the doctor or to a mental health clinician, and say, ‘hey I’m having these issues and I need a break. I need to decompress from all of this stress,’” said student advisor Juleah Edie. “We just want to let these students know that we’re there for them and that they are allowed to take time to themselves.”

She says that diagnosis is a privilege and that’s why mental health professionals in school are so important to them.

“Change is going to happen, but we want to make sure that it’s positive change,” Edie said.

The students say this is just the beginning. They still have a long way to go before they have a stigma-free environment surrounding mental health.

The students say, even though the committee asked tough questions, they hope their research and work for this project will be considered in this upcoming legislative session.

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