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Tulsa, OK: "More and more of Oklahoma’s teenagers are dealing with mental illness"

Dec 21, 2017, Tulsa Public Radio: As Students' Mental Health Needs Grow, Schools Find Counselors Have Little Time For Counseling http://publicradiotulsa.org/post/students-mental-health-needs-grow-schools-find-counselors-have-little-time-counseling When Moore Public Schools Superintendent Robert Romines asked some of his high school students what the district could do better, they told him they needed more help with mental health. “I was a bit shocked,” Romines says. More and more of Oklahoma’s teenagers are dealing with mental illness, and the increase has caught a few school administrators off guard. …. The Moore district is hiring three new counselors to focus on mental health. The situation is similar in Norman Public Schools. Administrators there also recently noticed kids needed more help than counselors could provide. District spokesperson Alesha Leemaster says both of Norman’s high schools now have Student Advocacy Coordinators whose sole responsibility is to help kids dealing with trauma. … Walter says counselors overloaded with administrative duties are often ineffective at other responsibilities that should be prioritized, like students’ mental health. Consequently, some kids don’t get the help they need.... Another national study found, that while teen depression is on the rise, there hasn’t been a corresponding increase in mental health treatment. … “No parent drops their kid off at the schoolhouse door to receive therapy. They drop their kid at the schoolhouse door to get an education,” she says. “But we all know if there’s a huge emotional issue, they’re not going to be able to learn.” Uptick in Oklahoma Anxiety and depression in teens are on the rise nationally, but mental illness has long been a problem in Oklahoma. Mental Health America ranks Oklahoma as one of the states where youth mental illness is the most prevalent. In Tulsa, Union Public School’s Executive Director of Secondary Education Lisa Witcher says she’s noticed this growth in her district. “We deal with students who’ve been affected by trauma on a more regular basis than we ever have in my 26 years of education,” she says. “Additionally, we deal with more incidents of self-harm.”...