BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says an important part of children’s overall health and well-being includes their mental and emotional state. The Panama Buena Vista Union School District says students should be aware of ways to get help both inside and outside of the classroom so that they can thrive in all aspects of their educational journey.
Kelsey Brackett is the director of communications and family engagement at P-BVUSD and says a child having a connection with a trusted adult – whether that be a parent, teacher, or school counselor – is an integral part of achieving a positive academic experience.
“Mental health obviously is very important too for our students. With the pandemic, even though we had a lot of students returning last year, we do have some new students that they’re returning from virtual learning and so we want to ensure that all of our students are keeping the utmost mental health at the top of their priority.”
That is why Jason Giffard from the Kern Behavioral Health and Recovery Services says for parents and teachers creating an open and safe environment for every child is step one.
“This means creating an environment where kids feel physically safe but they also feel emotionally safe. Meaning that they can come to school feeling like they can be safe from external threats, come to school and feel like they are supported and that people care about them. Give them the opportunity to do the best that they can do.”
Giffard says even as we find ourselves coming out of the depths of the pandemic children are still navigating their way through what he says is a “new normal.” And adds that their mental health can also affect other aspects of their lives whether that be socially, physically, or even how they handle stress.
Giffard says parents establishing school-day routines such as a set time for homework, physical activities, and sleep can ease some feelings of anxiety for kids before starting school.
“It’s a different world out there for kids now and there are a lot of challenges that they face. These are things that can be helped. If you can address not only the mental component of it but also the social component and physical aspect, that is really good for children's overall well-being.”
Brackett adds while mental health plays a huge role in a kid’s learning experience they also have a security system on campus to ensure the physical safety of their students just ahead of the school year.
“When visitors come on campus they do have to be checked through our Raptor system to do a brief background check to ensure that they’re safe to be on campus. We have different protocols in place for our schools to make sure that they are locked down. So during the school day, there is only one entry and exit point on campus so that anyone that doesn’t belong on campus has to go through the front office at all times.”
And if you are a parent or guardian and would like to receive more information regarding mental health services that are available for your child you can visit the P-BVUSD Suicide Prevention and Other Resources website.