Mercer Island Council should consider levy to fund MIYFS counseling | Letter

The Mercer Island School Board approved the following letter on March 22 to send to the Mercer Island City Council, asking it to consider a six-year stand-alone levy to fund the Mercer Island Youth and Family Services (MIYFS) counseling services:

On behalf of the district, we want to express our appreciation of your current financial support of the city’s MIYFS mental health counselors who provide counseling services for children, adolescents and their families to promote health, emotional and interpersonal development and provide substance abuse prevention services. We are truly fortunate to have a council and a community that value the mental health of each and every one of our Island youth.

As you may know, commumity mental health counseling co-located at public schools is a best practice model to:

1. Prevent youth suicide: Teenage suicide is the second leading cause of death for 10 to 24-year-olds. Each week in Washington state two youth kill themselves and 17 are hospitalized because of suicide attempts.

2. Prevent community and school-based gun violence.

We also sincerely appreciate the partnership and cooperation between the district staff, MIYFS counselors and the Mercer Island Police Department. This nearly 25-year inter-agency collaboration supported by our community illustrates the tremendous value Mercer Islanders place on the safety, mental health and social emotional development of our youth. Further, we recognize the positive community impact created by MIYFS counseling services offered outside of our schools. The benefits to the entire community, including seniors and others, from MIYFS services improve the overall health and safety of all of our residents.

Given the importance and community priority of MIYFS counseling services and recognizing the city’s current operational challenges, the Board of Directors would like to request that the council consider a six-year stand-alone levy for the MIYFS counseling services. Such a levy would allow Mercer Island residents the opportunity to support a semi-permanent and sustainable funding model for these critcal services, not only for the students in our schools, but for the community at large.

Mercer Island School District, Board of Directors