State lawmakers and educators seeking mental health resources after Texas shooting

Knoxville, Tenn. (WVLT) – School districts in Tennessee are specifically addressing safety and emergency preparedness when it comes to preventing school shootings. Mental health is a resource that some leaders want more emphasis on.

Licensed counselor Meredith Wood said the signs of mental health issues are easy to spot.

“Looking for poor hygiene, looking for dirty clothes, looking for a child who hesitates when interacting,” Wood said.

While it might be clear, she said teachers need more time or schools need more mental health resources if the issue is being addressed at school.

“Don’t let somebody get desperate where they haven’t been heard and they lash out,” Wood said.

Tennessee educators also want more discussions in schools. Tennessee Professional Educators executive director JC Bowman said it was a discussion that needed immediate attention.

“If we can’t keep our teachers and our children safe, public education is going to be abandoned,” Bowman said.

Bowman mentioned pushing for more anti-bullying measures in schools. State legislators also want to participate in the legislation.

Rep. Jason Zachary said more money for schools is part of the plan.

“Take the necessary steps in terms of funding, resources and direction to be able to increase safety, to appropriate new dollars for mental health,” Rep. Zachary said.

Money and new legislation can help provide those resources, but some lawmakers believe federal assistance is needed for background checks. Senator Richard Briggs said checking someone’s sanity during a background check only really works at the federal level.

“It really needs to be in a federal database, whether it’s the FBI or Homeland Security,” Senator Briggs said.

Senator Briggs also said it was becoming difficult to create legislation between medical and personal privacy while protecting Tennesseans.

Tennessee educators also said COVID-19 stopped meeting with the state’s school safety task force. Bowman said those conversations should resume immediately.

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