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Hillsborough County School leaders to discuss students' mental health and substance abuse issues

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Posted at 8:05 AM, Mar 29, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-29 08:05:42-04

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. — Hillsborough County School leaders are attending a substance abuse workshop on Tuesday.

According to data about Hillsborough County students:

  • 16% of students have tried cigarettes
  • 43% of students have used E Vapor products
  • 16% of students have had their first drink before the age of 13
  • 11% of students binge drink
  • 35% of students have obtained alcohol
  • 38% of students smoke marijuana
  • 6% of students have tried cocaine
  • 4% of students have tried heroin
  • 7% of students have done ecstasy

In an effort to better understand the many effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Hillsborough County School district is working to continue to recognize that students are still experiencing high levels of stress, anxiety, and depression, and many are turning to substances to cope.

The Crisis Center of Tampa Bay reports that from October-December 2021, 42 children were transported for their behavioral health in Hillsborough County Schools.

Research shows that students are more likely to receive behavioral health support if they’re offered at school.

The Biden Administration said it’s made an effort to increase school-based behavioral health support. The American Rescue Plan provided $122 billion in relief funds for schools to help them address mental health. Tampa Bay area school districts have used that money to hire school psychologists, counselors, social workers, and nurses.

On Tuesday, Hillsborough County School leaders are talking about the support available to students and parents.

Some of those resources include:

  • school counseling with prevention and intervention programs used to address substance use and abuse
  • school health services like clubs and organizations
  • partnership with Social Work Services like COVE Behavioral Health
  • youth mental health first aid training
  • psychological services including small group counseling, individual counseling, educating parents and students on mental health strategies

School officials will also be discussing age-appropriate substance abuse conversations for each grade level.

The workshop begins at 10 a.m.