One evening in March, a high school senior named Sydney Zicolella stood before the school board in this rural, blue-collar Connecticut town and described her psychiatric history, beginning in the sixth grade, when she was “by definition, clinically depressed.”

Ms. Zicolella, 17, who wore her dark, curly hair pulled back, is the third of four children in a devout Christian family, and the editor of the newspaper at Killingly High School.

Many students there were struggling, she told the board. She had seen kids “walked, carried and cradled out of counseling, hysterical, not wanting to go to the hospital, but also not wanting to be sad anymore.”

It was not uncommon, she said, for friends to “disappear for months, only to find out that they had been at a mental health hospital right down the road to my house.” She urged the board to approve the placement of a mental health clinic in the school, part of a push by the state of Connecticut to dramatically expand access to care for teenagers.

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