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Minnetonka, MN: School district parents focus on suicide prevention; shocking mental health stats

Aug 3, 2018, Minnetonka (MN) Sun Sailor: Tonka Mental Health Navigators calling for changes across district, community, state Minnetonka moms seek awareness of adolescent mental health After recent tragedies, Minnetonka School District mothers are banning together to advocate for mental health awareness, acceptance, research, recourses and solutions to help students who may be struggling. Seventeen members of the Tonka Mental Health Navigators group met July 24 at Minnetonka High School to discuss the mental health crisis in the school district and community. Tonka Mental Health Navigators co-founder Toni Plante, from Shorewood, started the group along with another mother after her daughter Ana Plante, a 15-year-old Minnetonka High School freshman, died by suicide Jan. 31, 2016 after battling depression…. “With my daughter, we just didn’t know what to do,” Toni said. “We went to PrairieCare Mental Health, Park Nicollet to see her psychologist, Relate Counseling Center and she was in the Minnetonka special education program. We were doing everything we could do and there was nowhere else to send her. There just weren’t enough resources.” After speaking about Ana, Toni said she began receiving Facebook messages from strangers who were opening up to her about their own child’s struggles with mental illness. After a 17-year-old Minnetonka High School junior died by suicide on March 22, Toni knew she needed to help. After reaching out to another mother, they co-founded the Tonka Mental Health Navigators group…. Approximately 16 percent of eighth graders, 17 percent of ninth graders and 20 percent of 11th graders in the state are dealing with a long-term mental illness, behavioral or mental health problem, according to the Minnesota Department of Education’s 2016 Minnesota Student Survey. Approximately 16 percent of eighth graders, 20 percent of ninth graders, 22 percent of 10th graders, 25 percent of 11th graders and 29 percent of 12th graders have been treated for a mental, emotional or behavioral problem, according to the 2017 Tonka Cares report. The numbers could be higher because many children are not seeking or being supported enough to get the help they need, … At the July 24 meeting, parents expressed concerns that there wasn’t enough being done to address mental health in the Minnetonka School District and surrounding community. “There aren’t enough resources,” Toni said. “We need to put more money into mental health resources and give the extra time to help these kids get through this.”… Mothers suggested solutions at the meeting, including a mandatory mental health course every semester for all students in the district, stress management options, mental health training for staff and selected students, online counseling sessions with psychiatrists so students won’t have to leave school and more counselors, resources and programs. …


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