Skubick: State government combatting mental health crisis among school children

Mental Health

FILE – In this Aug. 26, 2020, file photo, a Los Angeles Unified School District student attends an online class at the Boys & Girls Club of Hollywood in Los Angeles. A new federal survey finds that nearly half of the nation’s elementary schools were open for full-time, in-person instruction last month, but the share of students learning in-person has varied greatly by region and race. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – The State Government is busy on a number of fronts trying to ease the mental health challenges during this elongated pandemic, starting with school children.

“The crisis that our students have gone through over the past year does not end with a vaccine, it does not end with a classroom getting re-opened,” said Robert McCann of the K-12 Alliance.

Some Students engaged in virtual learning have seen their grades plummet compared to the good work they did in the classroom.  

That’s just one mental health factor students are coping with, not to mention missing their friends and missing federally provided food for needy students.

And then there’s the home life challenges.

“Many of these students we have found have not had a stable home life over the past 12 months and that affects far more than just a learning loss,” said McCann.

“It means as we get them back in the classrooms, if we’re not asking them how they are doing and what individual supports they need to successfully transition back to the classroom, they are only setting them up for future failures.”

That’s why the latest federal COVID aid packaged signed by President Biden includes $20 million for mental health professionals in schools.

State lawmakers are also deciding how to spend another $33.4 million in other mental health assistance for non-students.

All family members are grappling with a host of other mental health issues according to this advocate for families.

 “It is so needed right now. I know you’ve heard the stories about an increase in child abuse, in domestic abuse, suicides and addiction. This pandemic has hurt so many people. It’s in every corner of the state,” said Gilda Jacobs, CEO of the Michigan League for Public Policy.

Sometimes it is tough to find a silver lining in all the COVID bad news which has dominated the headlines for so long.

But, Ms. Jacobs has found at least one.

this pandemic has really shed a light on areas that we under investment in or not invested at all. we are seeking programs that need to be strengthen permanently. so it really is an opportunity.

The $50 million in spending from the state and feds won’t solve the mental health challenges, but it will give many the hope that they can get beyond these setbacks and return to whatever the new normal is for them.

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