Mayor Harrell, Councilmember Advance Millions Toward Increased Mental Health Resources for Seattle Students
Nov 24, 2022 - 02:14 AM
Seattle – The City Council’s Budget Committee unanimously approved Mayor Bruce Harrell and Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda’s joint proposal to increase funding for mental health resources for K-12 students at Seattle schools by investing a combined total of $4 million over the biennium. This $4 million investment builds on $1 million in increased investments in the mayor’s proposed budget, the $2 million added in the councilmember’s balancing package, and a joint amendment that invests another $1 million over the biennium. This brings the total to $9.4 million in 2023 and $9.6 million in 2024 for mental health services and school based health centers.
“Student voices have been unequivocal following the heartbreaking Ingraham High School shooting: Preventing the next tragedy requires investing in mental health support and prioritizing gun safety,” said Mayor Harrell. “As we enter the final stages of budget deliberations, we are responding to urgent student requests by increasing resources in mental health for our students and youth. While we push the state to further invest in this critical need, we are not waiting to ensure students receive expanded support now.”
“During a time of crisis and loss, it is our paramount responsibility to urgently respond to meet the needs of our community, and in the aftermath of the tragic Ingraham High School shooting, we must listen to students’ voices and follow best practices as we prioritize the critical importance of increasing access to mental health resources,” said Budget Chair Mosqueda. “This is one step towards meeting the student’s demands, an indication that we have much more work to do, and shows our commitment to doing that work together.”
This investment would increase the City’s funding for mental health supports for students and School-Based Health Centers, which provide increased access to mental health resources, improve health equity, and strengthen screening, intervention, and prevention efforts for students in need. The budget action unanimously approved by the Council adds $500,000 in 2023 and $500,000 in 2024 toward expanding mental health services for K-12 students using Families, Education, Preschool, and Promise Levy funds, complementing Mayor Harrell’s proposed budget which included a $1 million increase and Councilmember Mosqueda’s balancing package dedicating $2 million in JumpStart Payroll Tax funds toward K-12 mental health resources.
As described in the state Constitution, funding education is the paramount duty of the state of Washington. While this action provides stopgap funding to respond to immediate student needs, Mayor Harrell and Councilmember Mosqueda will continue to push the state to permanently increase ongoing investments in mental health resources, counselors, and other critical services to ensure the behavioral health and well-being of Seattle kids.
The City Council will consider final passage of the budget on Monday, November 28 and Tuesday, November 29.