DPS student petition calls for mental health reform

By Our Turn

DENVER -- Denver Public Schools parents and students say more needs to be done about mental health in Denver schools. Thursday, dozens of supporters urged members of the Board of Education to act fast and make specific changes.

"The first is that the district provides the resources to schools to hire at least one additional full-time mental health counselor in every building," said Molly O'Connor with Students for Education Reform.

The organization is also asking the board to hire counselors that reflect the identities of the students they serve. They would also like the district to require trauma-informed training for all staff. O'Connor says that would help staff better understand students in crisis.

During the public comment portion of the board meeting, O'Connor and other representatives from the organization presented a petition with nearly 800 signatures.

Katie Beckmann, a DPS parent says she worries about her young son's well-being with the current lack of mental health resources.

"Every day we ask these children to sit still for hours and play nicely together when getting out of bed feels like a lot to ask," said Beckmann.

Nearly a dozen students echoed her concerns.

"I know things won't change overnight or even in a few months," said DPS student Amelia Frederico, "but it takes continued effort to get things to change."

O'Connor says they hope to work with board members to get an item on the agenda within the next few months.

Originally Published by KDVR