Better Mental Health Resources Can Save Student Lives

Access to high-quality wellbeing options will keep all students and educators safe and focused on learning.

The Issue:

Idaho students confront mental health challenges that previous generations can only imagine. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated our children’s mental health issues, Idaho students reported feelings of loneliness and anxiety.

Students enduring mental health issues are more likely to display behavioral problems when their emotions become overwhelming and unmanageable. And when Idaho children suffering from mental health issues act out in the classroom or on school grounds, our educators are forced to serve as de facto first responders.

It’s not hyperbole to say this issue is a matter of life and death: When young people receive mental health assistance early on, they are less likely to engage in destructive self-harm or heartbreaking suicide.

Why It Matters:

Idaho children ages 3 to 17 are experiencing increasing mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. Surveys show mental health challenges are even more severe among children from traditionally underserved populations, such as households below the poverty line or Latino families. 

Our children spend most of their days in school, so school mental health professionals have the unique ability to meet them where they are and provide the assistance they desperately need. Unfortunately, our caring school mental health professionals are overworked and understaffed as they try to rise to this critical challenge. 

Why We Care

Idaho’s chronic underfunding of public education places an incomprehensible burden on educators and administrators who must manage their students’ mental health without proper training or resources. The state’s consistent lack of support also disrupts learning for other students: When a student interrupts lessons or consumes a teacher’s focus, the entire class suffers.

Our schools need a solutions-oriented approach that focuses on preventing violence, disruptive behaviors, depression, anxiety and student suicide. With greater mental health resources, we can help students manage their emotions, prevent learning loss — and save student lives. 

By the Numbers


In an IEA-commissioned poll from May 2022, 89% of registered Republican voters said ensuring students have access to certified, high-quality school counselors and mental health professionals is important or very important.

493 to 1

The American School Counselors Association (ASCA) recommends a student-to-counselor ratio of 250 to one. According to 2021 ASCA data, Idaho has a student-to-counselor ratio of 493 to one.

5th Highest

Idaho has the fifth highest suicide rate in the nation.

Take Action:

How you can take action: Tell your legislators that all Idaho students benefit from increased access to school mental health resources, and our overtaxed educators shouldn’t need to act as first responders.

Mental Health Resources FAQs

How does this issue impact educators?

Educators are often verbally and physically assaulted by students with a variety of emotional and behavioral issues. While eager to help students in distress, educators cannot be expected to be solely responsible for dealing with outbursts and aggression in their classrooms and still deliver a quality education to every student.

How does this issue impact students without mental health issues?

Mental and behavioral health incidents in the classroom interrupt learning for the entire class. If the school lacks a professional mental health worker, educators must manage the incident and keep other students safe. This further interrupts learning and can negatively affect the mental health of other students.

How many school mental health professionals does Idaho need?

The American School Counselors Association (ASCA) recommends a student-to-counselor ratio of 250 to one. According to 2021 ASCA data, Idaho has a student-to-counselor ratio of 493 to one, meaning that Idaho’s school counselors serve nearly twice as many students as recommended. This means many students will not receive the help they need.

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