Reference to a current Michigan bill or law that relates in some way to your proposal:
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:
How and where did you learn about the issues underlying your proposal?
How has your service activity influenced your thinking about this proposal?
Link to your media artifact(s) giving background on the issue:
Talk directly with at least 3 real live people who have special knowledge about this topic or the impact your proposal would have, and summarize their comments. These may include people appearing in your media artifact (video, podcast, etc.).
Describe the specific issue or problem, being sure to provide sufficient context so that someone less familiar with the issue has a sense of the bigger picture, but know that your focus here is on a more detailed spelling out of the specific problem or issue that you’ve identified. (250 words minimum)
Adolescents’ mental health has recently become a significant topic, especially in the United States. Children with mental health issues are at risk for academic failure, juvenile disciplinary issues, and substance abuse issues. However, although this problem affects so many aspects of so many children’s lives (family and friend relationships, grades, extracurricular involvement, etc.), the lack of awareness and the stigma surrounding mental health make it difficult for these adolescents to get help. In fact, 17.1 million young people have or have had a diagnosable psychiatric disorder, and about one in five students in U.S. public schools have a mental illness. However, nearly half of all children with emotional or behavioral difficulties receive no mental health services (Simon, Pastor, Reuben, Huang, & Goldstrom, 2015) and only 7.4% of young people report any mental health visits in the past year (Merikangas et al., 2010). These statistics display the enormous stigma attached to mental health, and the lack of education regarding how to get help or how to support those with mental health issues. A Michigan poll found that “82% felt that training about mental health issues would be beneficial for school staff”(Summary Report 2010 Michigan Parent Opinions). However, teachers have little training regarding mental health and they have many other roles and demands that take up their time. While high-risk students generally have some degree of support at their schools, there is a lack of support for middle class students that do not show warning signs based on their socio-economic status or family situation. On average, there is one counselor for every five hundred students. Not all schools have a psychologist; although these professionals are usually the best type of support students can have at their schools. Ideally, schools would have counselors, nurses and psychologists all working together to provide a full mental health support team. Therefore, the lack of resources at schools, as well as the large amount of students not getting treatment for their mental health problems is creating an epidemic in today’s society. By increasing the prevalence of a full mental health team at schools as well as educating and de-stigmatizing mental health, we can encourage students to take the steps they need for their own specific situation to combat mental health problems from becoming more harmful and prevalent in adolescents’ lives.
Describe three reasonable, feasible potential solutions or approaches that would help address this problem.
One proposal I think would be beneficial is to mandate a mental health class (or at least a very large unit that schools would be required to teach in their health classes). I think this class should be aimed to be taught in 8th grade so that all information gained from this class could be put to good use, and so that students know how to deal with mental illness before it becomes more of a common issue (in most cases, mental health issues start at around 14 years old). I think a class on mental health could work to de-stigmatize it by educating kids and helping them understand the causes as well as what steps they should be taking should they experience certain symptoms or emotional issues. This possible solution is less costly than others, and it allows every student, regardless of whether they have mental health or not, to be educated on the topic, and know what resources are available to them or others they know. It also enables students to learn the environmental and biological causes of mental health issues and how to learn the warning signs and better support their piers going through these issues. One of the biggest issues regarding mental health for young adults is that they do not seek out help even though they need it. This could be a result of stigma surrounding mental health issues, or just a lack of education of the subject. This solution can at least help educate all students and hopefully work to de-stigmatize mental health.
Another solution is constructing a program that allows college students to be trained by professionals and go to k-12 schools around the area for support group sessions in which k-12 students can confide in these college students and the college students can provide guidance and an open ear. This program could allow for both individual and group therapy options to cater to the k-12 student preferences. This program will take place at the k-12 school at least once a week. While these college students definitely would not suffice as therapy for any k-12 students that have serious mental illnesses, it would be a great support network for k-12 students that are struggling, need a mentor or need someone to talk to. I am basing this idea off of the club, Wolverine Support Network that aims to “empower University of Michigan students to create an inclusive community and support each other’s identity, mental well-being, and day-to-day lives through peer-facilitated groups and bi-weekly community events”. Mental health is often escalated or onset by relationship issues, lack of friends or lack of a supportive family. Therefore, having a supportive community and a safe space to discuss real issues can be a great way to improve students’ mental health. Additionally, having a college student facilitate these conversations can ensure that k-12 students are having productive and open dialogues. This program would be relatively cheap compared to other alternatives with the exception of potential costs from training or holding social events for these k-12 students. The only draw back is that a program like this may be limited to places that are relatively close to a college campus. However, if this is viewed as a big issue, the program could be changed so that it is not college students facilitating these support groups, but instead professionals or students themselves. Bringing in professionals to facilitate may increase the cost of the program, and some age groups may not be old enough to facilitate conversations themselves and/or want to talk to someone one on one instead of their peers. This is why I have intentionally decided on college students as being the best option for the program to be administered state wide to decrease costs and increase community connectedness.
The last solution I have created is focusing on creating a larger team of social workers, psychologists and other mental health resources at schools. There are around 1503 students for every 1 school psychologist in the state of Michigan on average. There are 729 students for every 1 school counselor in Michigan- This is the third worst student to counselor ratio in the country. Michigan would need 1,757 more school nurses just to meet the federal recommended staffing level (according to a 2014 Michigan-based survey). If we estimate paying around $50,000 per nurse per year, it would take $88 million a year just to get up to the amount of nurses recommended for Michigan. Therefore, it might be unrealistic to rely on complete funding from Lansing. Therefore, in order to create larger mental health teams at schools, schools should have better connections to hospitals and outside resources to increase this mental health team. Additionally, social workers and psychologists should be recommended, as lawyers are, to do a certain amount of pro-bono hours. This would ensure that students would have more accessibility to social workers and psychologists regardless of their economic status. Schools could partner up with social workers and psychologists to get in their hours at the school. This would be a great way to avoid excessive costs while still greatly expanding mental health resources to students all over Michigan.
Reaction or advice from a Topic Coordinator:
You must solicit a critique from a topic coordinator, and explain the impact that advice has had on the final draft of this proposal.
Describe your research process — indicate who you talked to (including but not limited to consultants), what you read, what your thinking was, how it changed over time, and how your consultants changed your thinking. This description of your research process definitely could include “dead ends,” or ideas you had that didn’t ultimately bear fruit. In short, we want to know what you did and how it led to your legislation, and we also want you to give us a window into your thought process.
Please delineate--in detail--who made what contributions to the process and to the finished proposal? Who took on which responsibilities in researching ideas, drafting language, etc.?
The sections below should comprise your final proposal language, submitted for consideration by your peers and potential inclusion in the MSC Platform.Preambulatory clauses
These set up the PROBLEM, but not the solution.
(Add more "Whereas" clauses if necessary.)Operative clauses
These describe in detail, the solution you are proposing (not the problem itself; those should go in the "Whereas" clauses above).
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED....
(Add more "Resolved" clauses if necessary.)Counter-arguments:
What are three reasonable arguments against this proposal?
3.Costs and funding:
What will your proposal cost (in direct expenses, lost tax revenue, lost economic opportunity, and/or non-monetary costs)? How will you pay for your proposed legislation? Where will/could the funding for your proposal come from? Who might object to dedicating resources to your proposal (competing interests)?
These can include websites or other information you have found about the issue.