Parent and community motivator Valerie Horvath stood in front of a group of 30 or so Lake Washington School District community members Tuesday night and stated her case: Kids these days, she said, face stressors that older generations can’t relate to — climate change, school shootings and social media. Add that to the pressures to succeed in school and dealing with whatever is happening at home, things can look bleak. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

“Things can get better,” she said. “There are things we can do to improve the community, to improve connections. We can talk about mental health like we talk about physical health. Like we talk about academic progress.”

Horvath and others were recruiting volunteers for Balance in Mind, a Lake Washington Schools Foundation-funded initiative aimed at educating parents and young people about mental-health issues. They offer webinars, trainings and some very useful resource guides that are available to everyone. (Scroll to the bottom to download it in English and Spanish. Need help walking your kids through the resources? Email the group and they’ll help you do that.)  

During the event, community members echoed some of the concerns we’ve heard from you through text and email over the past two weeks. Most people think schools aren’t providing enough support for students. Some people suggest more trained mental-health professionals providing services directly in schools. Others think educators need to be more aware of signs of anxiety or depression and learn about the effects of trauma because all of those things affect a student’s academic performance. And, as Hannah Furfaro reports, superintendents in Washington want some of the same things.

What are your thoughts? We’re still listening. Email or text “Mental Health” to 855-60 ED LAB (855-603-3522).

Please remember that help is immediately available. If you or someone you know is considering suicide, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK. Young people can speak to other youth by connecting with Teen Link via chat, text or phone. Their number is 1-866-TEENLINK.