How Schools are Racing to Respond to a Mental Health Crisis

NJ Spotlight News (August 23, 2021) and Chalkbeat Newark (November 20, 2021) covering the spike in student mental health needs.

The turmoil of the past year, the anxiety-provoking return to classrooms, the pent-up demand for support — all that has experts predicting an unprecedented surge in student mental-health needs. Now, flush with federal money, schools are racing to respond by expanding mental health services that, in the past, often got short shrift.

In addition to the isolation and frustration of remote learning, many students from low-income families also faced difficulties getting online, uncertainty around food and housing, and pressure to help care for siblings or contribute financially. Black and Hispanic Americans, subject to disproportionately high unemployment and COVID-19 rates, also were more likely than white people to report anxiety and depression during the pandemic.

Educators also can adopt a “trauma-informed” approach, which recognizes that children who’ve endured hardships might act out or shut down in the classroom, said Nivioska Bruce of CarePlus NJ.

“It’s not making an assumption that these kids are just being bad,” she said. “Take it a step further and try to find out what’s really going on.”

NJ Spotlight