Human resources

La Crosse high school students advocate for more mental health resources

LA CROSSE (WKBT) – As in-person school continues, high school students in La Crosse are experiencing a mental health crisis that is spreading through schools.

“I’ve been a student of Central (high school) for 63 days,” freshman Laura Lapp told members of the La Crosse school board Monday night. “These are 63 days of growth, learning and support that I have received from staff, students and friends. It was also 63 days of confusion, stress and pain that I had to endure.

Lapp and other high school students spoke at the school board meeting to voice concerns about the lack of mental health resources.

“They’ve come back twice now to talk to us. and we greatly appreciate their activism and advocacy and we listen to what they tell us, ”said Superintendent Aaron Engel.

But students say they’re not the only ones struggling.

“We have no mental health support from our schools due to the fact that counselors are overwhelmed with their current workload,” said sophomore Carter Mendel.

Senior Ella Lysne says counselors are also assigned to students, making individual care difficult.

Her advisor “is one of my most trusted adults in the building industry, but with 250 other students that she also needs to get to know, it’s hard for her to be there all the time,” Lysne said.

The district is using a grant from the AWARE project – Advancing Well-Being and Resilience in Education – to hire direct support. Engel said.

“We recently hired additional social workers to help students with mental health and community needs,” Engel said.

Changes and resources are to be provided soon, the students said.

“Depression and mental illness don’t wait for funding,” Mendel said.

Engel said the district is working to meet their needs. It partners with the Gundersen and Mayo Clinic health systems to provide mental health assistance with referrals.

“We want to make sure we’re putting the things in place that they need to be successful, happy and healthy every day,” he said.

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