Advocates struggle to understand mental health needs without school state data

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) – Schools are required to report student numbers, demographic information, and test scores to the Iowa Department of Education. However, state education departments do not collect data on many indicators related to mental health.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, suicide is the second leading cause of death for people ages 10 to 24 as of 2018. One of the reasons he spoke to TV9, a multiple mental health professional, is that he emphasized suicide along with facilitating the introduction of services into schools. So that children can receive mental health treatment.

Heather Doe, a spokesperson for the Iowa Department of Education, said the department only collects data when legally authorized to do so. She said a state law passed in 2020 mandates that data be collected on treatment classrooms.

An earlier TV9 report from Monday said these therapy classrooms will be in six school districts after 2021 grant funding. Based on additional grants released in August, 10 additional school districts plan to create therapy classrooms.

According to Cedar Rapids Community School District data released at the last board meeting, approximately 40% of students referred to mental health services do not receive services during the 2021-2022 school year.

Maggie Hartzler, director of clinical services at Tanager Place, said these numbers are misleading. Hartzler said he has been tracking this data, and the lines offered are being offered through schools, such as those who prefer to focus on growing demand by using private resources or refusing service. He said it doesn’t reflect people who weren’t.

“Those children are identified as having a hard time,” Hertzler said. “Then it’s a question of where they get services.”

Nonetheless, she said five more clinicians need to be hired to serve the district, which currently has 37 clinicians. He said he found himself more stressed with consistent needs.

“I think some people are really stressed and some people aren’t,” she said. “So it depends on the person. But definitely the last two years have been very challenging.”

Our KCRG-TV9 i9 research team requested similar data from three other school districts through Public Records Requests. However, no district was able to demonstrate a similar comparison.

A spokeswoman for the Iowa Department of Education told TV9 that it does not collect data on referrals to mental health services.

Amy Reynolds, a professor of counseling, schools, and educational psychology at the University of Buffalo, said the lack of information makes it more difficult to understand the need and possible solutions for mental health services statewide. It is said that it is. She said comprehensive information about students’ health is just as important as academic information as it allows schools to further develop their students.

“Schools shouldn’t just think about academic performance, they should care about the whole child,” said Reynolds. “And even if they only cared about academic performance, academic performance would be adversely affected by mental health problems.”

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