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Task force on student mental health seeks funding for mental wellness rooms in schools

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Young adults have faced considerable challenges in the last few years. From adapting to remote learning, then returning to school and dealing with gun violence. New Mexico was ranked 47th nationwide in a recent study, indicating youth have a higher prevalence of mental illness and lower rates of access to care. KUNM spoke with a member of a state task force on student mental health to learn how schools can create safe places for youth to feel heard.

The task force on student mental health created during the past legislative session has been traveling around the state to hear how mental wellness rooms in schools could impact students.

Democratic Representative Pamelya Herndon said she sees a need for these spaces after hearing how many students have been dealing with increased emotional stress and have nowhere to go talk to someone or just relax.

"The idea is to take a room that already exists and let students think about the colors they would like to have in that room and also it would be looking at how it would be furnished and what else would need to be in the room to help students to feel as though their emotions are being cared for," said Herndon.

Herndon said senior college students would be able to apply for internships working with young people in the mental wellness rooms.

The task force findings will be presented to the Senate Finance Committee in October and there are plans to seek funding for wellness rooms during 2023’s Legislative session. However, Herndon said the task force is also looking for private funding so schools can add these rooms more quickly.

This coverage is made possible by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and KUNM listeners.

Taylor is a reporter with our Poverty and Public Health project. She is a lover of books and a proud dog mom. She's been published in Albuquerque The Magazine several times and enjoys writing about politics and travel.
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