Town Hall meeting with Lauren Underwood answers concerns to mental health issues in schools

The+set+up+for+the+town+hall+meeting+in+Neuqua+Valleys+auditorium

Ryan Russell

The set up for the town hall meeting in Neuqua Valley’s auditorium

On April 20, 2022 in Neuqua Valley’s auditorium, a town hall meeting led by Congresswoman Lauren Underwood commenced to hear the community’s feedback on the new programs and laws that she had passed.

Many Neuqua families, as well as members of Illinois’ 14th Congressional District, gathered to talk closely with Underwood about their praises and concerns regarding her policies. Throughout her past years as Representative, Congresswoman Underwood has argubaly been incredibly impactful through her reliable success and dedication to ensuring the enrichment of our community. She has made an effort to invest in programs that will nurture students and young working Americans to be more equipped to give back to their community as the end goal. Rep. Underwood has accomplished these goals by acquiring sufficient funds and specializing tax cuts for certain people to ease the financial burden and use acquired funds to invest in education. Moreover, she has invested in more technical and career centered programs, and tried to increase funding towards mental health support for students.

A key concern for many Neuqua families recently has been mental health, with an alarming number of mental-health related incidents within Indian Prairie School District. Underwood did not stray away from addressing this issue and identified an increasingly serious problem:; lack of support for mental health for students. By acknowledging the suicide rates coming out of the pandemic, Underwood was not afraid to broach the topic of suicide rates and validated how students need a safe space to seek help from. She noted how this safe space must include more trained professionals like social workers and mental health workers, instead of relying on ill-equipped guidance counselors who have a different work experience.

“We are at a crisis level,.” she noted.

This statement is undeniably true;, within Illinois’s population of roughly 12.9 million people, 7-9% of children aged 9-17 suffer with mental health disorders. When the future of the generation is suffering, the future stability of our society will also suffer. However, Rep. Underwood sees this possible outcome and responds with detailed plans and programs in the works in response to these calls to actions.

So far, Underwood has worked for and achieved a 700% increase in school based mental health initiatives. One of her most influential projects was acquiring $60,000 for Mental Health services in McHenry County, which will allow for the expansion of tele-psychiatry services that will shorten wait times and address the growing demands in this county. Underwood’s goal is to use this project as an example for similar programs in the future to broaden the mental health support initiative across Illinois, reaching more regions in need of support.

Though there is still a long way to go, this town hall meeting was a strong foundation to lay the groundwork for this continuous work in progress to provide better resources for the community to turn to. By providing support and investing in the future generations, a more enriched and supportive community will come about. With the persistence of Lauren Underwood’s work and a collaborative effort from students, teachers, and parents, it is possible to reach this end goal.