Ask the Secretary of Education to prioritize education in America’s schools

Dear Secretary King,

Our students are suffering and do not have the support they need.

Mental health is the foundation on which all learning is grounded, and until our nation’s public schools have a comprehensive mental health strategy, our students will continue to suffer and our society as a whole will continue to pay dearly for our short-sided approach to learning.

As Secretary of Education we urge you to make mental health a priority during your term. We ask that you create and implement a strategy that will address the mental health of our youth, teaching students at all levels to:

  • Talk freely and fearlessly about their emotional well-being
  • Recognize signs of mental illnesses and addiction
  • Seek help when when they need it

Further, our schools need standards and policies that will allow them to be:

  • Trauma-informed in all aspects of their work
  • Safe places for students to find support for mental health issues without judgement
  • Accommodating to students living with severe mental illness

There has been some positive movement over the past few years: The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 and Representative Tim Murphy’s Helping Families In Mental Health Crisis Act currently before the House both represent important steps in the right direction. But if we truly want to provide our children with the tools they need to learn, grow and succeed, then we must address issues of mental health starting at the earliest ages.

The time is now — we cannot wait. Enacting policies that lead to the prevention and early intervention for mental illness will save lives: suicide is the third leading cause of death for young people between the ages of 15-24 and 90% of people who die by suicide have a mental illness. The health of our children and our nation require you to make mental health a top priority and act now.