by Tom Joyce
In reaction to the mass shooting inside of a Texas elementary school, Arizona lawmakers seek to explore their options to help teenagers struggling with mental health issues.
Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers appointed State Representative Joanne Osborne, R-Goodyear, to chair a new Ad Hoc Committee on Teen Mental Health this week.
The committee will look into causes and issues impacting teen mental health. Some of these issues include substance abuse, depression, and suicide. The committee hopes to find potential solutions to these problems.
The Ad Hoc Committee on Teen Mental Health will consist of members of the House of Representatives and of the Arizona community. It’s intended to research and review information about how substance abuse, bullying, and social media may impact the mental health of Arizona’s youth, including teen suicide.
The committee is supposed to identify potential solutions and offer recommendations to both public and private agencies to address teen mental health problems and improve access to mental health care.
“Teenage children today are faced with tremendous stress and pressure along the path to adulthood, and far too many succumb to substance abuse and suicidal ideations,” Representative Osborne said in a news release. “Struggles because of the pandemic and social media aggravate the situation further. As a mother of four and a longtime mentor to young Arizonans, I am deeply concerned with this current state of teen mental health, and I am committed to using the legislative pulpit to draw public attention to this important issue. Recent tragedies further highlight the urgent need for solutions. This will be our committee’s endeavor.”
Other House members who will serve on the committee include Representative Travis Grantham, R-Gilbert, and Representative Alma Hernandez, D-Tucson.
The Speaker will make community member appointments to the committee. Those members will likely include a parent who has lost a child to suicide, a pediatrician, and representatives from the education community, the faith-based community, law enforcement, the governor’s office, and more.
The committee will hold a series of public hearings beginning in June. It will issue its findings and recommendations in a report in December.
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Tom Joyce is a contributor to The Center Square.