Toledo leaders plan symposium to discuss ways to better address, provide care for youth struggling with mental health

Mayor Wade Kapszukewicz said he is working with TPS and is calling on the public to share their thoughts and feelings on these issues.

TOLEDO, Ohio – Toledo leaders plan to host a symposium in January, inviting the community to talk about mental health, with a special focus on youth, on how we can make sure children are healthy and safe.

One specific reason for having a community discussion is what happened last week at Bowsher High School when a major fight broke out that led to a number of arrests.

RELATED: TPS officers spray pepper spray at Bowsher High School after several fights

But the president of the Toledo Teachers’ Union, Kevin Dalton, said such acts happen often and school officials believe mental health has something to do with them.

“If this was an isolated incident, it would be one thing. But my members can tell you it’s not,” he explained. “On the contrary, such acts happen every day or days in our building and are very common. They tear apart the integrity of our classroom and education.”

The Surgeon General of the United States considered mental health issues among young people to be a national emergency.

Children’s brains are still developing, their emotions are rough and they haven’t learned the right way to share their feelings yet, said Scott Silak of Mental Health and Recovery Services.

“You could have situations that could lead to safety concerns,” he said. “So, if we can intervene early enough, maybe we can change that trajectory.”

Mayor Wade Kapszukewicz said he works with Toledo Public Schools and invites the public to share their thoughts and feelings about these issues.

He said it’s not just the Toledo problem, but having a discussion could be a step in the right direction for the Toledo solution.

“It is important for people in leadership positions to hear from real people. To feel the passion, to hear the feelings, and to understand that what is happening is not acceptable. It is unacceptable on every level.”

This wouldn’t be an overnight solution for one person, Dalton said. It will take some time.

“You know, we wouldn’t be able to do this on our own,” Dalton explained. “It’s going to take all of us to do that action and I’d like to see them bring some insight and ownership into the solution we need.”

“At the end of the day — the role of parents, loved ones, family mentors — this is an irreplaceable role,” Kapszukiewicz said.

City officials are working with national speakers, as well as TPS, to finalize details on when the symposium will be. They’re hoping for sometime in late January.

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