Hillsborough County students kickoff Mental Health Advisory Committee

This month, students from Hillsborough County high schools gathered for a day of networking to kick off the Mental Health Student Advisory Committee meetings for the 2022-23 school year.

School officials said during the sessions students planned activities to do at school with the intent to lower mental illness health stigma and promote emotional wellness.

"My favorite thing about it is hearing everyone’s different ideas, hearing the things that we’ve never done before that we want to implement in our schools," student Avery Rodgers said.

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A district spokesperson said 15,693 students received formal mental health services from a clinician last school year. School psychologists said students are impacted by the pandemic as well as other worries in their life. They said it’s important that students have a space to discuss their feelings.

"We've seen an uptick in terms of students reaching out to others for help, mental health help, anxiety maybe that they're having or stressors that they're having. And I guess the positive in that is they are reaching out to trusted adults," Anne Townsend, the supervisor of Psychological Services, said.

School leaders said the Mental Health Student Advisory Committee is another resource and opens the doors for important discussions.

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"The more we talk about it, the more normal it becomes to talk about it, and the more we reduce the stigma," Townsend said.

This year, the district received a record $10 million in funding for mental health resources. In addition to resources available at school, you can reach a counselor at any time through 211 or 988.