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Idaho State Board of Education Student Mental Health Summit set Dec. 8

December 1, 2020

BOISE – Idaho State University Counseling and Testing Director Rick Pongratz will be among the experts featured during the virtual Idaho Mental Health Summit at 4 p.m. Dec. 8 that is sponsored by the Idaho State Board of Education.

Idaho Public Television will carry the Summit via livestream at https://www.idahoptv.org/shows/idahoinsession/ and https://youtu.be/KkoTFSYpDAo.

“We are hearing directly from institution and school administrators and student leaders at all levels that students are struggling with mental health and the pandemic has only exacerbated the problem,” State Board President Debbie Critchfield said. “We encourage students, their parents and K-12 and college educators, counselors and administrators to watch this Summit and help us raise awareness and increase support for students in need so that they can succeed academically and in life.”

Idaho student leaders both in high school and college will prepare video messages about what they are seeing and hearing from their fellow students.

The Summit’s keynote address will be delivered by Alison Malmon, the nation’s leading nonprofit organization promoting mental health awareness and education for young adults. Alison started Active Minds in 2003 after her brother died by suicide during her freshman year of college.

“After my brother’s death, and knowing how preventable it was, I resolved to do something to change the way we approach mental health in our country.  Especially now, with the ongoing pandemic, it’s more important than ever that we all work together to end the stigma around mental health and prioritize it on our campuses and in our communities,” Malmon said. “According to a recent Active Minds study, one in four students said that their depression significantly increased due to COVID-19.  It is up to all of us to work together to take a proactive, collective, and integrated public health approach to mental health to help young adults through this difficult time.”

The Summit will also feature a panel discussion facilitated by Board President Critchfield.  Panelists include:

  • Chris Manley, president-elect, Idaho School Counselor Association
  • Mike Munger, program manager, Idaho Office of School Safety & Security
  • Rick Pontgratz, director of Counseling and Testing, Idaho State University
  • Maegan Rides at The Door, director of the National Native Children’s Trauma Center, University of Montana
  • Eric Studebaker, director of Student Engagement & Safety Coordination, Idaho State Department of Education
  • Carol Vanhoozer, counseling services coordinator, College of Southern Idaho

Idaho Governor Brad Little will deliver the Summit’s closing remarks. 

“The goal of the summit is to raise awareness, yes, but also go beyond that to explore solutions that can help drive meaningful action to reduce stigma around mental illness and inspire all Idahoans to take steps to improve the mental health of our students,” Pongratz said.

The Idaho Student Mental Health Summit is expected to last about 90 minutes.  More information is posted on the State Board of Education website: https://boardofed.idaho.gov/event/idaho-student-mental-health-summit/ 





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