Sen. Kevin Parker, Stephanie Carnegie to tackle youth health crisis

State Senator, Kevin Parker.
State Senator, Kevin Parker.
Office of Senator Parker /New York State Senate, file

“Growing up in public housing in Brooklyn and attending public school, I understand firsthand the trauma that our children encounter on a daily basis as they work to navigate through their academic and personal life,” said Senator Kevin Parker, as he teams up with mental health advocate Stephanie Carnegie to take on the rising crisis in youth trauma, mental health and suicide.

Drawing from his own life experiences, the lawmaker added that he was fortunate to have had various outlets such as “my parents, mentors and coaches to help me properly maintain a balance.”

Sen. Parker who partnered with Carnegie, a former celebrated publicist to introduce Senate Bill S. 5161 – The new York City Training and Comprehensive of Trauma in Children (TACTIC) Act, said, ‘I am ensuring students get the professional support they need to excel. New York needs to finally implement trauma sensitive education so that educators and parents can work together to support students’ mental health and provide relief before it’s too late.”

“Our children are coming into the classroom carrying much more than book bags and school supplies. We must change our perspective on what educating students looks like. Bill S5161 takes the whole child approach. The T.A.C.T.I.C. Act will allow all New York City schools to have the greatest potential to have a positive impact on students regardless of their trauma history. It will help bring all schools to an equal standard of excellence”, stated Stephanie Carnegie, Mental Health Advocate/Founder of Totality Wellness.

Ms. Carnegie, a NYC ambassador for the National Alliance for Mental Illness and founder of Totality Wellness, Inc. a mental health & wellness organization, provided Senator Parker with key guidelines and critical data necessary for the creation of this bill.

She noted that prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, rates for African-American children attempting suicide swiftly ascended — surpassing the numbers of their white counterparts. The already deleterious stressors of police violence, racism, poverty, domestic dysfunction, food insecurity and neglect are now joined by the trauma of dealing with the pandemic‘s disproportionate death toll in Black and Brown communities.

According to the statement, with schools possibly gearing up to resume full, in-person learning this fall, the fear of being bullied will be added to the equation. Expecting these children to be mentally capable of focusing on their education after dealing with the dual traumas of COVID-19 combined with urban life experiences is inordinate.

“In previous years educators have labeled students experiencing mental health trauma as special-needs. This bill would eliminate improper diagnoses, and would make sure that we are treating the ‘whole child’ as opposed to just putting a band aid on these issues, as we would have done in the past,” said Carnegie.”