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Tribal advocates keep up legal pressure for fair political maps; 12-member jury sworn in for Trump's historic criminal trial; the importance of healthcare decision planning; and a debt dilemma: poll shows how many people wrestle with college costs.

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Civil rights activists say a court ruling could end the right to protest in three southern states, a federal judge lets January 6th lawsuits proceed against former President Trump, and police arrest dozens at a Columbia University Gaza protest.

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Rural Wyoming needs more vocational teachers to sustain its workforce pipeline, Ohio environmental advocates fear harm from a proposal to open 40-thousand forest acres to fracking and rural communities build bike trail systems to promote nature, boost the economy.

Barriers Exist for Addressing Youth Mental Health in ID Schools

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Monday, June 19, 2023   

Mental health issues are at epidemic rates among young people, but the issue can be hard to tackle in Idaho schools.

America's Health Ranking marked Idaho as sixth worst for teen suicides between 2016 and 2021.

Megan Smith is an associate professor at Boise State University and founding director of Communities for Youth. Her organization identifies factors leading to poor mental health outcomes and promotes protecting young people.

She said some Idahoans are questioning what role schools should play in addressing mental health issues.

"The challenge, of course, for schools in this," said Smith, "is that they deal with young people every day for several hours a day, and they're dealing with large groups of humans struggling with mental health."

Smith's organization found between 33% and 66% of students are experiencing moderate to severe depression in the communities they work statewide.

U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy has called declining youth mental health a public health crisis.

Smith said distressed students not only struggle themselves, but can create barriers for other students.

Addressing this issue can be tricky. Concepts like social-emotional learning have become a political flashpoint in Idaho and other states where conservatives have pushed back on the perceived liberal bias in schools.

However, Smith saud, names for these concepts may be getting in the way of a much more basic idea.

"If we take the words off of it," said Smith, "most of us would agree we want our young people to develop good character and to engage with others using good character."

Smith said one of the most distressing developments in Idaho is the growing lack of data on young people. She said the only statewide information available on youth is for suicide death rates and emergency room visits.

"I want to sound the alarm on that," said Smith, "because if we do not track what's going on for young people until it's too late, until literally we have a death rate, we are doing a huge disservice to our young people."




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