It Takes A Village To Address The Youth Mental Health Crisis

Carolina Serna’s job as a care coordinator for the Clifford Beers, a behavioral health care provider based in New Haven, puts her in the middle of today’s mental health crisis for kids, teenagers and their families. When Clifford Beers gets referrals for cases, Serna and other care coordinators become the face of the organization, helping children and families get the clinical care they need. But Serna and her colleagues do much more than that. In a sense, they’re the bridge between troubled families and the rest of society. Take one of the many tough situations Serna handled during the COVID-19 crisis: A young Hispanic mother in New Haven had just lost her job.

Pandemic Took Toll On High School Students’ Mental Health, Well-being, CDC Reports

Isolation and lack of social get-togethers during the pandemic took a toll on high school students nationally, a survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports. The findings are based on anonymous online questionnaires taken during the first six months of 2021. About 7,700 high school students in grades 9-12, who attend 128 public and private schools, participated. According to the CDC survey results:

• More than a third (37%) of high school students said they experienced poor mental health. • About 44% said they felt sad or hopeless in the past year.

Surging Behavioral Health Care Needs For Children Put Strain On School Social Workers

On paper, the social worker’s role at public K-12 schools is straightforward: to support a caseload of students with special needs to thrive in often-challenging academic setting. But ask a social worker employed in a public school these days, and they’re likely to tell a much different story. For social worker Jara Rijs, who works at Windham Center School, where more than half of its pre-K through fifth-grade students qualify for subsidized lunch, the job responsibilities bleed well beyond the job description, particularly since the pandemic hit. As many in her school community face trauma either induced or exacerbated by the pandemic, Rijs says she considers every one of the estimated 250 students at her elementary school part of her caseload. Beyond providing clinical support to students with individual education plans, in a given day, Rijs might also meet with a student struggling with a family loss or divorce, connect to a community health agency to check availability, lead a staff discussion on self-care, or even don the school’s “froggy” mascot costume—a symbol of the school’s “Froggy Four” character development program.

Children And Parents Feel The Strain Of Confinement

Weeks into staying home from preschool, Betty, 4, threw herself on the floor and had a screaming meltdown. She had had a Zoom meeting with her class earlier that day, and every little thing was setting her off. “We don’t accept screaming in our house,” said Betty’s mother, Laura Bower-Phipps, professor and coordinator of elementary education at Southern Connecticut State University in New Haven. “So, we counted the screams, and when she hit three, my wife and I told her she needed to take a break for four minutes.” Betty took the break, came back and screamed three more times, and again went to her quiet spot for another four minutes. And so, it went on.

College Students Turn To E-Communities For Mental Health Support

About 26% of young adults 18-25 years old have a mental health issue, but only 38% of those affected actually receive treatment, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Colleges across the U.S. have felt the weight of the statistics.  Counseling centers are flooded by an increasing demand for a limited amount of mental health resources, resulting in students getting placed on waitlists. At times, students are turning toward e-communities, particularly ones on Instagram, for support and recovery. Many accounts are dedicated to raising awareness and offering support for eating disorders, anxiety, and depression. Instagram users communicate and bond through their captions, stories, and private messages on their mental battles and physical struggles.