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Oregon students list mental health services in top concerns

Associated Press

PORTLAND – Oregon high school students cited mental health services among their top policy concerns, according to a report compiled by a student-led organization.

Oregon Student Voice found that 40 percent of students listed mental health resources as the most important issue for schools, Oregon Public Broadcasting reported Tuesday.

Only about half the students said they felt mental health resources were easily accessible through their school, according to the State of the Schools report.

The organization surveyed more than 2,200 students from 42 Oregon high schools, gauging students’ opinions on topics that included teacher quality, support services, school climate and ability to influence education policy. The survey was conducted online from August 2017 to December 2017.

Oregon Student Voice member Amelia Ernst, a high school junior, helped write the report, which she said aims to ensure the organization’s policy goals align with student priorities.

“We realized that there was no data about schools and the school environments through students’ eyes, so we decided to take the opportunity to not only hear from students about their schools, but have the survey executed by students too,” Ernst said.

The report also outlined aspects of school life that can influence students’ mental health, like the difficulty and intensity of standardized testing. Most of the students said the tests were not good indicators of their success, and 60 percent said the tests damage their self-esteem.

The report recommended that schools look into alternative ways to assess students, which could mean examining portfolios or other aspects of a student’s performance, Ernst said.

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