School levy will ensure student mental health services

To the Editor:

As a board-certified psychoanalyst, and a licensed clinical counselor, respectively, we have both worked with children, teens and adults experiencing mental health crises. Sometimes these crises arise from an acute trauma, such as a sudden death or unexpected divorce, and sometimes they come about over time from the ceaseless burden of daily living.  

The CDC estimates that approximately 4.4 million children ages 3–17 suffer from anxiety, and approximately 1.9 million suffer from depression. We know, without question, that these and other mental conditions are being amplified by the COVID pandemic. These issues often remain invisible to the untrained eye, and can easily go undiagnosed and untreated. For many young people in our community, their crises are first spotted by concerned teachers, coaches, school counselors and social workers.  

We both are also parents of students in CH-UH schools, and we are grateful that our district’s schools do such a good job providing social and mental health services to students. Unfortunately, we frequently hear people complain that the number of social support staff our district hires is too many. We think those complaints are not only misguided, but dangerous. We firmly believe that school social workers, guidance counselors and psychologists play a critical role in the health and well-being of our community’s children—sometimes a life or death role.  

At a time when we need to bolster our mental health system across the board, we urge our fellow Heights residents to support the upcoming school levy in order to protect these vital services in our district. Particularly in this moment of unprecedented stress, we want our schools to remain places with trained professionals who are ready to serve children in great need. We feel this is urgent, and we hope you will join us in voting for the school levy in November. 

Catherine Sullivan and Julie Mokotoff

Catherine P. Sullivan and Julie Mokotoff
Cleveland Heights

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Volume 13, Issue 9, Posted 3:51 PM, 08.31.2020