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SOURCES: AMERICAN SCHOOL COUNSELOR ASSOCIATION, COMMUNITIES IN SCHOOLS, HAYS CISD, SAN MARCOS CISD, TEXAS EDUCATION AGENCYCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER As Hays County continues to grow, its school districts must work to meet the needs of the rising student population and their needs. Organizations such as Communities in Schools provide full-time sta members to provide additional support to students across Hays and San Marcos CISDs. THE RATIO BALANCING
succeed academically as well, she said. The mental health challenges that children, teenagers and their families faced as a result of the pandemic led several organizations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, to declare a national state of emergency in October. There have been soaring rates of depression, anxiety, trauma and other issues that will have lasting impacts on young people, according to the declaration. Local, state and national resources must be utilized to improve access and quality of care, according to the academy. Providing accessibility As the needs of students have increased, HCISD is working toward being more proactive, not just reac- tive, via Lightspeed Systems, Gonzalez said. Lightspeed technology monitors students online connected through their school Google account and ags any concerning internet behavior. Gonzalez said the data found is alarming, and the district hired an additional social worker solely to mon- itor alerts and identify students who may be at a critical point. Within San Marcos CISD, ensuring a student feels safe is the No. 1 prior- ity, said April Chatmon, director of social emotional learning and guid- ance for the district. “That’s always the No. 1 priority from meeting basic needs all the way to providing those mental health supports and continuing to look for ways to close gaps for students,” Chatmon said. For Chatmon, a big factor in mental health struggles is simply the language and stigma associated with them. “One of the things that we talk about constantly is that stigma that centers around having to own the fact that there’s some type of mental health issue happening in your life,” she said. The stigma surrounding mental health can become a barrier for some- one seeking treatment, according to the American Psychological Associa- tion. Being conscious of the language
Represents 1 counselor American School Counselor Association recommendation
Represents 20 students
Texas Counseling Association recommendation
Texas 2020-21 school year ratio
During the 2021-22 school year:
1: 240 1: 370
San Marcos CISD
line with the nationwide trend of emer- gency department visits, Communities in Schools of Central Texas—a local branch of the nationwide nonprot aimed at supporting students through various resource outlets—also reported a higher number of students at risk for suicide or self harm needing interven- tion during the 2019-20 school year. Though the number of students in need of intervention decreased between the 2020-21 and 2021-22 school years, the number of mental health and supportive guidance hours uctuated. “Mental health is individuals who are in crisis or have severe mental health needs. Guidance and coun- seling can be a lighter touch than the intense mental health, so it’s talking about setting goals, talking to some- one about how to self-regulate, provid- ing technique and tools,” said Sharon Vigil, CIS chief operations and equity ocer. “It’s all connected.” Persistent challenges Mental health and emotional well-being play a role in a person’s overall health, according to the CDC. Social distancing, virtual learning and other pandemic safety measures made it dicult for teenagers and children to form social relationships and work on their social skills that contribute to their overall emotional well-being, Esquivel said.
“A lot of these children are behind now. Especially with the younger ones that were not in school. … They have not had the opportunity to go and be with friends, make friends. … How to negotiate, how to cooperate, how to share, how to borrow, how to talk to somebody, how to engage them in a conversation,” Esquivel said. While academic slide has been dis- cussed in pandemic-centric conversa- tions, there also needs to be emotional slide conversations as well, Vigil said. “We have an entire generation of students who lost the opportunity for socialization,” Vigil said, adding that lack of socialization is causing anxiety and social fatigue. These issues are still on the mental health spectrum as it caters to a vari- ety of needs, Vigil said. “There are individuals who are in crisis who need mental crisis health support, and there are individuals who are having self-esteem issues or maybe eating disorders who also need mental health,” Vigil said. The return to in-person instruction also brought about a slew of mental health needs in students, said Maritza Gonzalez, director of Guidance, Coun- seling and College & Career Readiness for Hays CISD. Within the counseling department of HCISD, staers focus on the social and emotional needs of a student to ensure they are set up for success and can
DISPARITIES AMONG STUDENTS While mental health issues do not discriminate, the American Psychological Association found that racial and ethnic minorities are at greater risk of unmet mental health needs. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that LGBTQ students reported poorer mental health compared to other students.
NEGATIVE EXPERIENCES IN THE PAST 6 MONTHS:
Feeling lonely or isolated
Diculty with schoolwork
65% 47% Feeling nervous or anxious most of the time
Lack of interest in doing things
36% OF STUDENTS OVERALL said they experienced racism before or during the COVID-19 pandemic according to the CDC.
African American and Hispanic/Latinx children are 1.5-3 TIMES MORE LIKELY to have unmet mental health needs than white children.
Experiences of racism and discrimination among youth has been linked to: poor mental health academic performance lifelong health risk behaviors
The highest levels were among Asian and black students.
SOURCES: AMERICAN PSYCHOLOGICAL ASSOCIATION, CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION, THE JED FOUNDATION COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER
COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM
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