Mental Health of Children and Teens

PRE-PROPOSAL 1. Media Artifact

Link to your media artifact(s) giving background on the issue:

An infographic with data on mental health of children and teens with specific focus on the state of Michigan.  By Julia Eisenshtadt and Maddie Donsky

2. Persona and POV statement Persona name: Brooke Smith  Age: 13 years old  School/occupation: Tappan Middle School Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan   Quote: "Going to school everyday makes me very anxious. I can't concentrate in my classes and I'm worried about what that will do to my grades."   About:
  • An only child
  • Doesn't do well in school 
  • Parents are recently divorced
  • Sleep in late when possible
  • Avoid social situations 
  • Focus on body image 


POV Statement:
  • User Brooke, a very lost 13 year old middle school student 
  • Need needs motivation, help and support
  • Insight because she lacks the resources and guidance to take care of her mental health and isn't of age to understand her unhealthy emotions on her own 


3. Potential Solutions:

SOLUTION 1: Mental health screenings are typically done in at the doctor’s office every year during a student’s physical. However, students in lower income areas might not be visiting their doctor on a regular basis to get this screening done. The government should give public schools the resources to conduct these screenings on a semester basis to ensure that if a student is having mental health issues it can be detected properly.

SOLUTION 2: Students are encouraged to visit their guidance counselor at school when they are having trouble academically or personally. However, it is not legally mandated that these counselors have any training in recognizing or interviewing with mental health issues. In Virginia in 2017, the State Senate passed a law that makes anyone seeking or renewing a license to be a guidance counselor needs to go through a mental health training program. Michigan should adopt a similar approach in order to ensure that there are more professionals trained to handle mental health issues in schools.

SOLUTION 3: In addition to guidance counselors earning some sort of mental health certification, teachers should also go through a required training to know the warning signs of mental health disorders. Teachers are the ones who spend the most time with the students so they should be prepared to intervene when they see fit.



There is a bill in Michigan that was just proposed in January that states that schools must adopt a professional development course for teachers on mental health first aid. They must learn how to identify warning signs of mental illness in their students, as well as know strategies for the students to help an individual who is experiencing a mental health crisis. Our proposal can hopefully build on this bill and help it be implemented enough in school districts, where students are well aware of the resources and guidance that they can have if needed.

Why this proposal will make a difference in the lives of students of all ages across Michigan, or a significant subgroup (by age, background, economic status, and/or region, etc.) of students in Michigan:

This proposal would provide much more support and resources to the youth who suffer in the state of Michigan with mental health. If guidance counselors and faculty in the schools were provided with higher training and qualifications, students would have access to much more help in order to seek the attention and resources they need. In addition, having someone available to talk to within a student’s school is much more comforting and confidential rather than having to go out of their way to tell someone, since the stigma can make mental health so hard to be spoken about.

How and where did you learn about the issues underlying your proposal?

During our preliminary research of mental health across the web, we found that mental health in Michigan was significantly more common in the youth than it is overall in the United States. Overall, a higher percentage of kids suffer from mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety and eating disorders in Michigan, and are not provided with the help and guidance they need to address these issues. We came across many statistics and charts that we shared in the infographic that shows the comparison between the state of Michigan versus the United States overall.

How has your service activity influenced your thinking about this proposal?

Both of our community service activities related to giving back to the Michigan community, however Julia’s service activity inspired us most into thinking about this proposal. Julia has been tutoring young kids, where she gets to see their personalities and their struggles both with education and outside of it. This led us to do research on Michigan students and their guidance and structure, which influenced us to propose an idea for them to have more resources and help in school ensuring good mental health for them.

Link to your media artifact(s) giving background on the issue:

An infographic with data on mental health of children and teens with specific focus on the state of Michigan.  


CONSULTATION 1: Jeremy S. McPike was the Chief Patron on Virginia Senate Bill 1117 in 2017 which called for “Every person seeking initial licensure or renewal of a license with an endorsement as a school counselor shall complete training in the recognition of mental health disorder and behavioral distress, including depression, trauma, violence, youth suicide, and substance abuse.” The act passed and was put into effect in July 2017.

CONSULTATION 2: Michigan Student, Katie Baron: “In high school, a few of my peers developed mental health issues such an anxiety and eating disorders. I don’t think anyone in the school system got involved in helping them overcome these challenges, but if they had, maybe they could’ve gotten help sooner since they didn’t feel comfortable reaching out themselves for help.

CONSULTATION 3: Dearborn Public Schools School Social Worker, Lauren Rouff: “The logic there of course would be the more mental health professionals there are, the greater the reach and the more potential of students served. In my experience, though, the greatest barrier to students and families seeking professional treatment has to do with the acceptance and stigma of mental health and mental illness. I see this as societal as well as cultural. People simply aren’t as eager to seek mental health treatment as they are physical health. To that effect, widespread education and awareness would help to allow families to notice signs and symptoms as well as access treatment.”


Reaction or advice from a Topic Coordinator:

Our meeting with Michael was helpful in finalizing our ideas for the proposal. He agreed that mental health is a very important and relevant issue for us to be doing a proposal about. We discussed consultation ideas and he helped us find more resources specifically about mental health to look at to further our research.

Research process:

We began our research online, looking at articles relating to mental health in both the state of Michigan as well as the United States overall. We came across a few alarming statistics comparing mental health in Michigan versus the rest of the US, which is what led us to further do research on this topic of mental health in Michigan. We decided to reach out to sources that are well informed of the matter and also get some first hand experience stories from students. We spoke to Jeremy S. McPike who was the Chief Patron on the Virginia Senate Bill 1117 that requires every person seeking a license as a school counselor must have certain qualifications and knowledge about mental illness. In addition, we spoke to a student at a Michigan high school who shared her first hand experience, saying how she never knew of the schools ever getting involved with mental illness with students. And lastly we consulted with a social worker in the Dearborn school district who supported our proposal, stressing the importance of seeking mental health treatment for students in need. We always had one idea for our proposal and it was to provide schools with guidance counselors and resources with higher training and help in order to help students with mental health. We did not come to any dead ends, and feel very supported after speaking to the consultants as well.


Author contributions:

Initially, we sat down together to start doing all of the research and start brainstorming what kind of direction we wanted to go in with our proposal. We found all of the data together to back up our ideas and then came up with what our solutions were together. In addition, we reached out to the people for our consultations together. After that and discussing the exact direction we decided to go in, we split up the formal proposal. Maddie started by discussing all of the research and background information, while Julia wrote out the details about the consultations. Then, Julia filled out the preambulatory clauses and operative clauses that we had discussed together, and Maddie addressed the counterarguments and costs/funding that we also reviewed together. After that, we came together to review our proposal overall.


Preambulatory clauses

WHEREAS.... 50% of mental illness typically begin by age 14

WHEREAS.... In the state of Michigan, only 43.17% of those aged 13-18 with mental health disorders who need treatment actually receive it. If schools can help better detect mental illness, more students with these issues will likely receive treatment.

WHEREAS....Currently there is no law that states that schools must have professionals with mental health recognition certification

WHEREAS...There is a stigma around mental health disorders which prevents individuals suffering to reach out to receive treatment

Operative clauses


1.  Schools should be legally mandated to have professionals on campus trained to detect mental health issues as they develop. For districts that do not currently have someone to conduct training, a unified training program across the state for guidance counselors and other schools professionals (based on district preferences) will be implemented

2. An individual seeking their license to be a school counselor must receive formal mental health training before doing so. Any current school counselor must receive formal training before renewing their license.

3. By having more trained professionals at schools, it will open up the conversation about mental illness among children and teens and possibly lessen the stigma



1. It takes a lot of time in order to get these qualifications for training of professionals within the school districts.

2. It is more costly to hire more qualified professionals that can detect these mental illnesses and provide help for them in the school environment.

3. There is a lot of liability when schools get very involved with the mental illness of students.


Costs and funding:

The cost of our proposal would be incurred at the discretion of individual school districts. The number of professionals who must receive this certification would depend on the number of students in the schools, so the cost would be relative to the size of the district. In Virginia, the district decides whether they pay the cost of if the individuals receiving the certification pays it themselves. The Mental Health First Aid group is an organization that currently provides training services. Their classes cost $20 so it does not seem that training a few people at every school would be too costly. In addition, districts could opt to have one person get certified to be a trainer that could train the rest of the necessary people in the district. Overall, there are many ways to achieve this proposal without it being too costly. Although the districts might not like having this additional cost, there is nothing more important than the health and safety of our state’s students, so we do not foresee much disagreement.




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Total votes: 18