BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — It is no secret that the pandemic has been hard on people’s mental health, especially for students. One school district in Las Vegas lost 18 of its students due to suicide over the past nine months, and that situation raises the question: are other districts including here locally dealing with similar issues?
Kern County school districts and Behavior Health say that they have seen an increase in mental health problems among students and staff, but they are trying to help students by utilizing their resources such as counselors and psychologists to help those struggling the most.
“There is really nothing that replaces in-person interactions between students and their teachers and their peers,” said Robert Menszaros, Kern County Superintendent of Schools.
Robert Menszaros with the Kern County Superintendent of Schools says that students' mental health has taken high priority for Kern County school districts because of the pandemic.
“One of the biggest shortcomings of distanced learning is that true connectedness and relationships which are the core social and emotional well-being are really hard to achieve through a computer screen,” said Kelly Richer, Superintendent for Wasco Union Elementary School.
With depression, mental illness, and suicide on the rise nationally, many school districts around the county are working towards making sure their students’ voices are being heard by implementing programs and on-staff counseling services.
“We have counselors in the school for the children available for them to contact at any time, they are on standby for any time,” said Richer.
Kelly Richer, superintendent for Wasco Union Elementary School District told 23ABC that they have had an increase in parents and students needing help during the pandemic and that counselor teams go out and help families that may be struggling in any aspect, whether it’s mentally or financially.
“School has always been a safe place for kids to go during the day and they don’t have that right now, it is a bit of a difficulty, and the counselors are very busy,” adds Richer.
Rosedale Union School District has also seen an increase in students reaching out for help due to their mental health and they too have created resources for those struggling.
“We have created a plan for social and emotional learning, we are using lessons that our staff have created based on current needs of students, so our students are getting those weekly,” said Crysta Silver Hill, chief administrator of student support, Rosedale Union School District.
According to Crysta Silver Hill with Rosedale Union School District, students are also receiving one-on-one check-ins with staff to make sure that they are doing well emotionally and mentally, but there are also ways that parents can be on the lookout for any signs of depression or suicidal tendencies.
“If they are withdrawing more, if they aren’t as talkative, they just look down or become more angry and argumentative those are all signs that something different is going on with your kid and it is a sign that maybe it is a good time to have them talk with someone.”
For those who may be struggling with their mental health or if your student is showing signs of depression or anxiety, Behavioral Health has resources available.