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

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

TOLEDO, Ohio — Toledo leaders plan to host a symposium in January, inviting the community to talk about mental health, specifically focused on young people how we can make sure kids are healthy and safe.

One specific reason for having a community discussion is because of what happened just last week at Bowsher High School when a large fight broke out resulting in a number of arrests.

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

But the president of Toledo Federation of Teachers, Kevin Dalton, said actions like that happen often and school officials believe mental health has something to do with it. 

"If this was an isolated incident, it would be one thing. But my members can tell you that it is not," he explained. "To the contrary, actions such as that occur every day or days in our building and it's too common. It's disrupting the integrity of our classroom and the instruction." 

The U.S. Surgeon General has deemed the mental health issues among the youth as a national emergency. 

Scott Sylak with Mental Health and Recovery Services said kids' brains are still developing, their emotions are raw and they haven't learned the proper way of sharing their feelings yet.

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

Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz said he's working with Toledo Public Schools and is calling on the public to share their thoughts and feelings about these issues.

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

"It's important for people in leadership positions to hear from real people. To feel the passion, to hear the emotion, to understand that what's happening is unacceptable. It's unacceptable at every level."

Dalton said this won't be a one-person, overnight solution. It's going to take some time. 

"You know, we're not going to be able to do it alone," explained Dalton. "It's going to take all of us to do this action and I would love to see them bring some ideas and ownership to the solution that we need."

"At the end of the day - the role of parents, loved ones, mentors family - that's an irreplaceable role," said Kapszukiewicz.

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

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