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A Handful of People Are Doing Everything in Their Power To Deny Kids Access to Mental Health Resources

An empty doctor's office.

Mental health resources for public school kids are already pretty hard to come by, even if their parents are open-minded, and even if they have good insurance. Those are some big ifs. So young residents of a public school district near Detroit were dealt a huge blow recently when a few school board members in Michigan made it their mission to limit their access even further by voting to halt the construction of a free on-site clinic serving public school kids’ total health needs.

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The Grosse Point district had been planning the opening of a free health clinic for young people in the community, ages five to 21, that would offer mental health services as well as traditional healthcare free of charge. (Damn, sign us all up!) But in a heated school board meeting on January 19, the project was stopped in its tracks by a four to three vote led by (surprise!) Republican school board members. What was the problem? They didn’t want to spend the money. Do they have the money? Yes. Do they want to spend it to serve the kids’ needs? Nope.

“If this board chooses to cancel this project, it is declaring to the students who struggle with access to physical and mental healthcare that resurfacing a baseball field or paving a parking lot is more important than their needs,” said an attendee before the vote at the board meeting

“How can you believe that spending $1 million from the sinking fund to remodel 200,000 square feet for a teen clinic is fiscally responsible given the current critical path needs of the district?” said Terrance Collins, an attendee who ran for a seat on the school board this past fall, but was not successful. Note that a sinking fund just means a savings account that the city adds to, little by little. So they had the funds there. 

The free health clinic project had been in the works since the summer of 2022 when Oakwood Health, a division of the Michigan-based company, Corewood Health, had approached the district about a partnership. The cost to Grosse Point public schools would be under $1 million for the construction and remodeling of the actual clinic facility. After that, the actual operating costs of the clinic, which would be far more expensive continuing into the future, would be paid by Oakwood Health, not the district, and not the taxpayers. So all the district had to do was provide the building and a donating company would provide the very expensive care into perpetuity. Amazing? The school board didn’t think so. 

In addition to being free, having the clinic onsite would have allowed students to be treated for mental as well as physical health concerns, without needing to leave school grounds or have their parents take time off work to take them to a traditional doctor setting. 

“This would allow these students, with their parent’s permission to get health care and not have to leave school. We know when kids are in school and healthier, they learn better,” said Superintendent John Dean.

Dean also said he thinks people who have been fighting the clinic don’t really understand it. For instance, some naysayers have stated they think kids will get prescriptions without their parent’s knowledge, which is not the case. The clinic would have to follow state laws that require parental permission for almost all healthcare concerns. 

Unnamed residents also sent the district threats saying it would be unlawful to use taxpayer money to build the clinic, according to Click on Detroit local news. However, the district’s lawyers have said otherwise.

Following the crushing vote to halt construction until another funding source can be found, there hasn’t been anything in the news about an angel donor coming forward. As Emilyinyourphone, a former lawyer in the senate turner TikToker, said in a recent video about the controversy, “It’s interesting because, after every school shooting, every Republican is out there talking about how what we need is more mental health resources in schools, not to regulate guns.” 

Well here’s your chance to potentially cut down on gun violence in your schools, Michigan!

Yet unsurprisingly, as the TikToker also points out, it was the Republican members of the board who pushed the clinic project to a halt.  School board member Sean Cotton, is a wealthy Republican donor who owns the local newspaper in Grosse Pointe and may have used it to sway favor in his own political interests. 

Additionally, school board member Ginny Jeup has admitted to being present at the January 6th insurrection and posted about it publicly on Facebook. Where is this hellscape where people in charge don’t care about people’s health? Oh right. The United States.

(featured image: Shopify Partners from Burst)

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Cammy Pedroja
Author and independent journalist since 2015. Frequent contributor of news and commentary on social justice, politics, culture, and lifestyle to publications including The Mary Sue, Newsweek, Business Insider, Slate, Women, USA Today, and Huffington Post. Lover of forests, poetry, books, champagne, and trashy TV.

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