San Francisco (AP) — While Benito Luna-Herrera teaches grade 7 social studies classes, he is wary of signs of internal turmoil. And nowadays there are a lot of them.
One of his 12-year-old students felt that her world was collapsing. Her distance education overturned her friendship. Things with her boyfriend burst violently. Her family life was stressful. “I’m done,” the girl told Luna Herrera during the pandemic, and shared a detailed plan to kill herself.
Another student was usually a big joke and confident. But one day she told him she didn’t want to live anymore. She also had a plan to end her life.
Luna-Herrera is a teacher at a middle school in Southern California, but the stories of suffering students are becoming more and more common across the country. The silver lining is that special training helped him know what to look for and how to respond when he sees signs of a mental emergency.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, experts have warned of the mental health crisis facing American children. According to interviews with teachers, managers, educators and mental health professionals, this is now in the form of increased thoughts of depression, anxiety, panic attacks, eating disorders, fighting and suicide in children at school. Is happening in
In low-income areas, where there were many adverse childhood experiences prior to the pandemic, the crisis is even worse, exacerbated by a shortage of school staff and mental health professionals.
Luna Herrera, who teaches in poor areas of the Mojave Desert, has a small number of teachers in California, but more and more are taking a course called Youth Mental Health First Aid. She teaches adults how to find warning signs of their child’s mental health risks and substance abuse, and how to prevent tragedy.
The California Department of Education is funding the program for all school districts that demand it, and the pandemic is accelerating the move to require such courses. The training program is run by the National Council for Mental Health and is available in all states.
“I don’t want to read about another teenager who has a warning sign and we take a different view,” said Anthony Portantino, author of a bill that requires all middle and high schools in California to train at least 75%. Senator Ntino said. Behavioral health employees. “Teachers and school staff are at the forefront of the crisis and need to be trained to find students in distress.”
Depression and anxiety as a child have increased over the years, according to experts, but the relentless stress and sadness of pandemics has been cut off from counselors and other school resources, especially during distance learning. For those who have already experienced mental health problems, it has amplified the problem.
Sharon Huber, a professor of child and adolescent psychiatry at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and co-director of the National Center for Mental Health, said distance learning wasn’t just an academic issue for children.
According to Hoover, child abuse and neglect increased during the pandemic. For children in problematic families with alcoholics and abusive parents, distance education meant they had no escape. People lacking technology or having unstable internet connections were more isolated than their peers, further lagging behind academically and socially.
Many children bounced after the quarantine was extended, but for others it took longer and mental health problems often lag behind stressors.
“We can’t assume,’OK, I’m back at school. It’s been a few months, but now everyone should be back to normal.'” That’s not the case, “Hoover said.
Returning to school after months of isolation heightened the anxiety of some children. According to teachers, students are very difficult to focus, focus, and sit still, and after spending a lot of time on the screen, many need to relearn how to resolve conflicts face-to-face. I have.
The children expected to resume from where they left off, but found that their ability to cope with friendship and social stress changed. Educators also say they see much less empathy, with growing concerns about grades, indifference about how students treat each other and themselves.
Terin Musbach, who trains teachers on mental health awareness and other social and emotional programs in the Del Norte Unified School District, a poor neighborhood in Northern California, said: California. “School violence is increasing, e-cigarettes are increasing, substance abuse is increasing, sexual activity is increasing, suicidal ideation is increasing, and all behaviors that children are worried about are increasing.”
Many states have mandated training of teachers on suicide prevention over the last decade, and the pandemic has encouraged them to expand their reach to include support for mental health awareness and behavioral health needs.
However, school districts across the country also say they need more psychologists and counselors. The Hopeful Futures Campaign, a coalition of mental health organizations across the country, released a report last month that found that most states struggle to support mental health in schools. Only Idaho and the District of Columbia exceed the nationally recommended ratio of one psychologist per 500 students.
In some states, including West Virginia, Missouri, Texas, and Georgia, more than 4,000 students have only one school psychologist, the report said. Similarly, few states have achieved the goal of one counselor for every 250 students.
President Joe Biden has proposed $ 1 billion in new federal funding to help schools hire more counselors and psychologists and strengthen their suicide prevention programs. It followed in December with a rare pubic hair recommendation by US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy on “the urgent need to address the country’s youth mental health crisis.”
In early 2021, 51% of adolescent girls and adolescents visited emergency rooms in the United States suspected of suicide attempt, compared to the same period in 2019, according to a study cited in the advisory. It was 4% higher for boys.
Over 8,000 teachers, managers and school staff have been trained since California launched a youth mental health first aid course in 2014 to oversee the California Department of Education’s mental health programming. Monica Nepomuseno said.
She said more should be done in the country’s largest state, which employs more than 600,000 K-12 staff in schools.
This course helps distinguish typical adolescent methods of coping with stress (door closures, crying, angry outbursts) from signs of blatant or subtle psychological distress warnings.
Danger signals include when a child dies or talks about suicide, but with subtle nuances such as “I can’t do this anymore” or “I’m sick of this.” Mental Health Council. Since its inception in 2012, she said more than 550,000 K-12 educators nationwide have taken youth mental health first aid courses.
Behavioral changes can be a source of concern — children who quit the sport or activity they were passionate about without exchanging it for something else. A typically organized child who regularly begins to look unfriendly. Students whose grades plummet or quit their homework. A child who ate lunch alone and stopped dating with friends.
After realizing that something might be wrong, the next step is to ask the students without pressure or judgment, and tell them what you care about and want to help. To let you know.
“Adults sometimes ask more harmful questions than good,” said Luna Herrera, a social studies teacher at California Middle School, a two-hour drive from Los Angeles to the desert.
He took the course in the spring of 2021 and used it two weeks later. It was in the middle of distance education and the student did not appear to the online tutor, but he found her chatting online on the school’s distance education platform and had a fierce dispute with her then boyfriend. Woke up. Luna personally contacted her.
“I asked her if she was okay,” he said. Little by little, the girl told Luna Herrera about the problems with her friend and her boyfriend and the problems at her home that left her feelings lonely and desperately unfixed.
In this course, you will be instructed to ask adults free-form questions to continue the conversation, and not to project themselves to adolescent problems with comments such as: That’s not a bad thing; I experienced it. Please ignore it. It may seem trivial to adults, but it can be overwhelming to young people and the inability to recognize it can interfere with conversation.
Twelve-year-old Luna Herrera said she was thinking of hurting herself. “Is that a repetitive idea?” He asked, remembering how his heart started racing when she revealed her suicide plan.
Similar to CPR first aid training, this course will teach you how to deal with a crisis. Issue an alarm and get the help of an expert. Do not leave one person thinking of suicide. As Luna Herrera continued to talk to the girl, she sent a text message to the principal who called the principal, called 911, and police rushed home to the girl and her mother who were surprised and unaware. I talked to you.
“He completely saved the child’s life,” said Mojave Unified Director Catherine Aguile, who oversees the district of about 3,000 students, who make up the majority of Latin and black children in economically disadvantaged families. Said.
Recognizing the need for behavioral heath training early in the pandemic, Aguile trained all employees, from teachers to garden supervisors to cafeteria workers, through the Ministry of Education.
“It’s about consciousness, and that Sandy Hook’s promise: if you see something, say something,” she said.
It didn’t happen at 14-year-old Taya Bruel.
According to his father, Harry Bruel, Taya was a bright and precocious student who began to suffer from mental health problems around the age of 11. At the time, her family lived in Boulder, Colorado, and Taya was temporarily hospitalized for psychiatric care, but she fell into the trap of a model student. She straightened out and was a co-leader of a high school writing club, and her spare time taught seniors how to use computers.
In the literature class, Taya was assigned to keep a diary. In it, she painted her disturbing portrait of her self-harm, and she wrote about how much she hated her body and heard a voice she wanted to silence.
Her teacher reads the assignment and writes: I liked reading the entry. A + “
Three months later, in February 2016, Taya committed suicide. After her death, Taya’s parents found her diary in her room and brought it to her school. There they learned that Taya’s teacher hadn’t told school counselors and managers what she saw. They don’t blame her teacher, but always wonder what would happen if she didn’t ignore the signs of her danger.
“I don’t think the teacher wanted to hurt her daughter. I don’t think she knew what to do when she read these harsh warning signs in Taya’s diary,” she told Santa Barbara, California, with her family. The relocated father said.
He believes that laws that require teacher training on behavioral health will save lives. “Tell you what happened to Taya, not just to leave, but to alert you.”
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In the midst of student confusion, US teachers are training in mental health. WGN Radio 720
Source link In the midst of student confusion, US teachers are training in mental health. WGN Radio 720