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CEA launches awareness campaign for mental health crisis in schools

The CEA's What You Don't See campaign includes powerful video testimony from parents and those on the front lines, battling the mental health crisis in Conn. schools

HARTFORD, Conn. — The Connecticut Education Association (CEA), the state's largest teacher's union, has launched the "What You Don't See" campaign, which is shining a light on the physical and mental challenges educators and students are facing right now.

The CEA created a series of videos to paint a picture of the situation for lawmakers.

They include powerful personal testimony from parents and those on the front lines, battling the mental health crisis in Connecticut schools.

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They want lawmakers to see how critical the need is.

"This is a system that needs a lot of support and we are really asking a great deal of our school systems," said Kate Dias, President of the Connecticut Education Association.

Dias said there is more anxiety, depression, and suicidal ideation happening in schools than most people can handle.

"We need mental health professionals to help our kids through this, and you need more of them," Dias said. "And you need to make sure that the schools are places where those mental health professionals can do those jobs successfully."

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One of the main problems is that there are not enough people to help the students. The standard is to have one counselor see a maximum of 250 students. But right now, the average ratio for Connecticut schools is one school counselor to 457 students.

Curtis Darragh is a counselor at Westside Middle School Academy in Danbury. He said, "I would say right now, my biggest fear is that I missed a kid that said, Mr. Darragh, I'm going to hurt myself."

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Darragh said these problems existed before the pandemic, but they are growing.

"I think now is the time for our voices to be heard and for legislators to know that hey, schools do a lot," Darragh said.

And they are paying attention. this week, lawmakers are introducing a new bill focused on mental health help for children.

As for the CEA's campaign, they're making sure that these stories are not forgotten.

"Making sure that, as decisions are made that are critical, that the voices that they're keeping really at the forefront are those that are impacted the most," Dias added.

Julia LeBlanc is a reporter at FOX61 News. She can be reached at jleblanc@fox61.com Follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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