Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School

MSD Students Walk Out in Demand for Better Mental Health Support

Students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School are demanding better mental health services and support as the superintendent gave an update on what services the district offers since the tragedy over a year ago.

About 100 students walked out of class Wednesday afternoon to raise awareness about the mental health support they say is lacking for students and staff, who are still reeling from the February 14 shooting. 

Student organizers say with the recent apparent suicides of a former student and a current student, it's triggering PTSD and other feelings.

"It's really somber in school," said freshman Hailey Jacobsen, who helped organize the protest. "Everyone is worried and glancing around, who is going to be next?"

Many are on alert that more of their peers are suffering in silence. Students know that counseling and more are available on campus, but they fear the most vulnerable students aren't accessing those services.

"You have depressed kids, kids who don't know how to talk out their problems, and yes, they have counselors there, but some of them don't help as much as they should," said Ty'Janai Thomas, a sophomore at MSD. "We sit here and talk with them, but what action is being taken behind the words?"

Later that day, Superintendent Robert Runcie and other district officials detailed the mental health support that's been in place since last year's tragedy and the additional services since the recent suicides, including another 20 or so trained trauma clinicians on campus. 

Additionally, two wellness centers are open: the Broward County Resiliency Center at Pine Trails Park is open seven days a week, and Eagle's Haven in Coral Springs opened last week.

"We cannot afford to continue to go on just being busy and not pause for a moment to hear from our young people, it's all of our responsibility to engage and make sure we're not losing another kid, and another kid, and another kid," Runcie said.

FSA testing that was originally scheduled for this week has been pushed back at MSD to give students and staff time to cope with the recent tragedies.

According to the district, around 100 people or so took advantage of the extra support on Monday alone, but students say there is a disconnect between what's being offered and students' needs.

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