While COVID-19 significantly impacted the mental and behavioral health of students and families during the past three years, the pandemic also highlighted the need for qualified behavioral health specialists in all our schools. Before the pandemic, school counselors split time between the district schools, which made it challenging to meet all students’ needs. Now, TSD has full-time behavioral health professionals at every school, making it easier for children who are struggling to reach out for help.
While the pandemic may have brought the issue to the forefront, the problems surrounding mental health in adolescents started long before COVID-19. The CDC reports that in the 10 years prior to the pandemic, feelings of persistent sadness and hopelessness, as well as suicidal thoughts and behaviors, increased by about 40% among young people.
“Having counselors at every school ensures students have access to a caring, trained adult when they need them,” says Teri Martin, Federal Programs Director for TSD. “It provides support some students may not have access to outside of the school setting.”
Now, counselors can work with students individually or in small groups, covering topics like friendship, grief and loss, divorce, empathy, and more. They also oversee student check-ins and check-outs, provide individual crisis support, extend our Character Strong curriculum, hold Student of Concern meetings, and implement other support services to make sure students have the tools they need to manage their mental health.
Students or parents concerned about a student’s mental or behavioral health are encouraged to reach out to their student’s teacher, counselor, or school administrator to learn more about resources available to families.