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COUNCILORS JULIA MEJIA AND ERIN MURPHY FILE HEARING ORDER ON MENTAL HEALTH PROGRAM IN SCHOOLS

Leaders responded to a growing number of violent incidents


On April 6, Councilors Julia Mejia and Erin Murphy filed a hearing order on a mental health program at Boston Public Schools. The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and the Association of Children’s Hospitals said the pandemic-related decline in child and adolescent mental health is a national emergency. According to a press release, “The hearing was filed in response to a number of incidents that occurred on or near school property, including the shooting that took place outside TechBoston Academy and loaded weapons found at the Dearborn STEM Academy and the Young Achievers Science and Math Pilot K-8. School. The goal of the hearing is to identify pathways to mental health and wellness education within the Boston Public Schools Health Curriculum.

Mejia and Murphy made statements about the order:

“Since even before the COVID-19 pandemic, we have faced a pandemic in our Boston public schools around mental health and wellness,” Mejia said Wednesday. “Every day, students are asked to leave their trauma at the door so they can focus on their studies. And recently we have seen how this unprocessed trauma has spread through our schools and onto these streets.

“As a Boston Public School teacher for over twenty years, I understand firsthand how critical mental health and wellbeing is for our children,” said Murphy, co-sponsor of the hearing order. “By integrating mental health into our curriculum, we are taking a wholesome, holistic approach to education and fostering an environment that meets a wider range of our children’s needs. I look forward to working with my colleagues to create a BPS experience that meets children where they are and gives our children the best chance of success.

Other leaders, such as Leon Smith, executive director of Citizens for Juvenile Justice, commented on the urgent need for mental health services.

“Our young people are struggling right now, having endured difficult and traumatic experiences in their homes and communities, inequalities in access to learning and a lack of crucial support services,” Smith said. “A generation of young people, many of whom are of color, are bearing the brunt of this pandemic and we must take positive steps to prioritize and address the underlying needs they bring to the school door every morning, so that they can focus on learning and making. school progress. The trauma and adversity that our young people have faced has taken their toll and sometimes cause them to be angry, emotional or prone to act or make bad decisions. The same old punitive approaches that punish and blame young people without addressing their mental health issues are not the solution. We cannot penalize, punish and arrest to get out of a mental health crisis. We need to focus on therapeutic and restorative approaches, integrated into our schools and programs, that meet the needs of the whole child.