The state of Utah has the fifth-highest suicide rate in the country. According to Utah’s Department of Health, suicide was the leading cause of death of children ages 10-17 in 2017.

In HB 373, the Utah Legislature provided millions of dollars of funding in order to support the growing need for school social workers and other mental health providers within the education system. This significant amount of funding is urgently needed across schools within Utah to tackle the growing suicide rates and mental health needs for students.

With the increase of cyberbullying, LGBTQ issues and technological advances, children now are facing issues never faced by other generations.

Social workers now in some districts are responsible for eight schools themselves. They are spread way too thin. When will the funding be evenly distributed and start to benefit the children and schools in need? Each school needs at least one mental health provider and easier access to familial welfare services to best serve the children.

Our children come first. If we are not helping them succeed in their schooling, what are we doing that will benefit future generations of Americans?

Kirsten Farrell, Salt Lake City