Tuesday, March 28, 2023

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Nashville mourns six dead in the latest mass shooting, the EPA takes public input on a proposal to clean up Pennsylvania's drinking water, and find ways to get more Zzz's during Sleep Awareness Month.

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A shooting leaves six dead at a school in Nashville, the White House commends Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's decision to pause judicial reform, and mayors question the reach of state and federal authorities over local decisions.

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Finding childcare is a struggle everywhere, prompting North Carolina's Transylvania County to try a new approach. Maine is slowly building-out broadband access, but disagreements remain over whether local versus national companies should get the contracts, and specialty apps like "Farmers Dating" help those in small communities connect online.

Legislation Aims to Improve VA School Mental-Health Services

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Wednesday, February 22, 2023   

Virginia's General Assembly is reviewing legislation to improve mental health services in schools.

Currently, Virginia ranks 48th among states for youth mental health, according to a report from Mental Health America.

One bill would require teachers to get trauma-informed care training every three years. And Gov. Glenn Youngkin's "Right Help, Right Now" plan allocates $230 million for upgrades to the state's behavioral-health system.

Emily Griffey, chief policy officer at Voices for Virginia's Children, said more could be done, and the right approach is needed to ensure schools are on the right path.

"We see the overall approach being, it's great to have those trusted individuals in the school building, as well as schools to be able to have the resources they need to look outside -- to community providers, to experts in the mental health field -- and access those resources when they can," Griffey explained.

She said one challenge is getting enough people to take on the work. In a 2022 Kaiser Family Foundation survey, 57% of schools reported having insufficient access to licensed mental health professionals.

Griffey said youth mental health is one issue Democrats and Republicans have been able to come together to work on. The legislation to bring more mental health services to schools has strong bipartisan support. She is hopeful the General Assembly will be able to iron out the details.

"Our hope is that all of these initiatives move forward in the General Assembly within the next two weeks," Griffey noted. "Within the next two weeks, our lawmakers will look across party, across the House and Senate, and look at the solutions that need to be in place, so that kids can get additional mental health services."

She added there appears to be less stigma attached to mental health issues, as today's students are more willing to talk about their own struggles. Griffey stressed now, legislators need to step up to provide the help these young people need.


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