Youth mental health help: An open letter to the NC General Assembly

I am reaching out to you today with a critical, deeply personal, message about the urgent need for youth mental health help for us kids.

By: Gracie Parker | April 2023

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My name is Gracie Parker, I am 10 years old and live in the very rural WNC mountains. I am a 4th grade student in Macon County.

I am reaching out to you today with a critical, deeply personal, message about the urgent need for youth mental health help and bullying for us kids.  We children are hurting and we need your help!!!

I lost my mom to drugs when I was only 6 month old and my dad isn’t part of my life because of drugs and jail.

My grandparents took me out of a life threatening situation before my mom died and they are raising me, and I’m very lucky to have them, I love them.

But, I wish I could be normal and live with my mom and dad, I never even got to know my mom! I miss her so, so much. For a long time, I thought I was the only one struggling with my traumas alone.

Then, in third grade, I started talking with some of my classmates and friends, and I realized that they are also trying to survive, dealing with their own trauma, may it be because of domestic violence, substance abuse at home, losing a parent or a sibling, Foster care, parent being deployed, divorce, bullying, etc. just to name a few.

And I had 5 more kids share their traumas with me in 4h grade. And the only people speaking for us were adults – they think they know what we are going through. Many kids are scared, afraid to speak out.

My friends, class mates and I were so lucky when we found out  that we have  a trauma counselors in our school,  but we lost her at the end of third grade because funding ran out. For a minute, we had a safe place,  a person we could talk to, who helped us to open up and then, she was gone!

Let’s do the math!

6 kids talking amongst themselves about issues they are dealing with out of 18 in one third grade class, and 5 out of 19 kids this year in one 4th grade class. . There are 5 – 3rd grade classes and 5 – 4th grade classes at my school. And we have 6 elementary schools in Macon County, so that is roughly 200 – 300 kids, give or take, that need help. That is unacceptable!

I am fortunate that I can still see my trauma counselor because of my loving grand parents but so many other kids now have no one. It’s my understanding, that all trauma counselors will be gone by the end of 2024 in our schools!

We cannot let that happen!! We need you to assure that there’s adequate funding for trauma counselors in our schools, especially at the elementary school level. Provide incentives to be able to have the right people with the right education available to fill the positions. Our lives are in your hand! We kids, my generation, are our future, help us to grow up to become healthy strong adults!

We need your help now! If we don’t get the help we need now, so we won’t end up like our parents or worse, then it will cost three or more times the money to “fix” us, if that’s even possible.  Some of us won’t make it – to many kids, teens and young adults are committing suicide, become drug addicts, homeless, etc.

We must stop this vicious cycle “PREVENTION VS INTERVENTION”!

So, I decided to take a stand and speak up about what we children are going through. I am the voice for kids like me, some can’t or won’t  or are not able to speak out about our urgent need for youth mental health accessible to all of us.

I urge you to pass a budget that includes adequate funding specifically for trauma counselors in all of our schools NOW, starting at an elementary school level!

Right now you are the ones that can help to save us.


Attend the Youth Mental Health-Help rally organized by Gracie and friends.
Sunday, April 30, 2023, 2 – 4 p.m.
Downtown Franklin, NC by the gazebo

Or send a letter to your legislators today asking them to fund mental health providers in schools.