Colton High sophomore took part in recent gubernatorial debate
Colton High School sophomore Kai Schrosk took part in the gubernatorial Debate for Oregon's Future on Tuesday, Oct. 2.
Fifteen Oregon students were given a chance to ask questions of this year's candidates Kate Brown, Knute Buehler and Patrick Starnes. Each student had a chance to pose a question that was of particular importance to them. They touched on a variety of subjects including climate change, gun safety, foster care and rural internet access. Schrosk addressed the mental health issues faced by Oregon's young people.
His question to the candidates was: "In Oregon the second leading cause of death in youth 10 to 24 is suicide. According to the Oregon Health Authority, Oregon is well over the national average and those numbers have been rising over the past decade.
"What plans in particular, beyond gun safety, would you do to protect youth from suicide and improve overall mental health, especially in high-risk groups such as male teens and the LGBTQ community?"
"I directed my questions to candidates, Buehler and Brown," Schrosk said. "Representative Buehler responded by talking about the mental health helplines his wife is affiliated with, which is important and he was passionate about it, but I was looking for in-depth plans for funding instead of what is available now, which has not been enough.
"In her answer, Governor Brown talked about things she has accomplished," Schrosk added, "but she did offer more of a sense of plans for the future with additional resources in schools. Mr. Starnes talked about giving youth hope and inspiration."
The students were given extra time after the debate to speak with the candidates. Schrosk said he was a little less disappointed with their responses, as the candidates did talk about the importance of mental health care in schools and funding options.
When asked how he felt about the answers to his question Schrosk said, "I was encouraged by some of the progress that has been made by both candidates, but I was discouraged by the lack of plans."
When asked how he became a part of the Debate for Our Future, Schrosk said his grandmother heard about it and told his mother, who brought it to his attention. He submitted his question, it was approved, and then he had to submit a video asking the question.
"Senior editors from the media helped us hone our thoughts so we could communicate them as clearly as possible," Shrosk said. "They were specifically looking for topics that are unique to our generation. I was impressed by all the questions and the determination of my fellow students to get their questions answered.
"I'm glad I got the experience," Schrosk continued. "I am interested in behavioral psychology as a career path. I want to do more work for the cause of mental health care within our government and community. I want to bring down the taboo of talking about mental health, and I want to contribute to the research that will help the world understand mental health issues."
Schrosk said he is going to keep the conversation rolling, bring it to the front line of conversations and help bring metal health education into schools, community and workplaces.