Schools require information on mental health issues in students

It’s a question on all Southwest Florida school registration forms: Does your student have a mental health issue?

“There’s too many shooting(s) to not be concern to it,” said Fort Myers resident Ronda Julian.

Some parents say it’s a question that goes a little too far.

“Privacy, yes to a degree — but mostly I need to make sure my child is okay mentally,” Julian said.

The question legally required after the Valentine’s Day shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Florida’s legislature passed sweeping new requirements for schools to follow.

“I think what bothers me — is they’re making forms and they’re asking a question — and then they can say we made a form and asked a question,” said licensed mental health counselor Dr. Laura Streyffeler.

But there’s no one standard for every district to follow.

Lee County simply asks if your student has current mental health services: yes or no.

Charlotte County wants to know if your student has ever been referred to mental health services: what kind and how long?

Collier County asks if the student ever had mental health referrals.

“But I don’t the question to be on a form – I want the teacher and admin to be asking questions and talked to kids,” Dr. Streyffeler said. “I don’t want a parent to be putting that on a form the first day of school. I want that question to be asked at student everyday,’ how are you doing?'”

Dr. Streyffeler said it’s usually the students that don’t get flagged who need the most help.

“Kid(s) that have been to counseling are a lot less to act out because they’re talking they’re working thru this stuff … rather than the kid who’s in the corner, who nobody is talking to — that’s who they should be paying attention to,” Dr. Streyffeler said.

The Marjory Stoneman Douglas Law passed in March. It also moved the age to purchase a fire arm to 21 years old, put a resource officer in ever school and provided $28 million to expand mental health services to young people.

Reporter:John-Carlos Estrada
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