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Kern County focuses on helping children's mental health

"We are seeing kids suffering."
Student Mental Health
Posted at 4:07 PM, Mar 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-21 21:27:43-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — With the unexpected impact of the pandemic, there has been an unfortunate increase in the number of children who are struggling with mental health.

Back in January, the Newsom administration announced they were investing $4.4 billion into the systems that support behavioral health for children and youth.

We’re now learning more about how that money is going to impact Kern County.

Poor mental health in kids is more than just feeling blue, it can heavily impact many different areas of a child’s life.

The CDC stated that youth with poor mental health may struggle with school, grades, and decision-making. With this funding, they hope things will change for the better.

“The impacts of the pandemic on our children are becoming more evident and more visible. We are seeing kids suffering and suffering more significantly than they were before,” said Stacy Kuwahara.

Stacy Kuwahara, Behavioral Health Director for Kern Behavioral Health and Recovery Services said that the money that is being spent to assist the mental health of kids, it helps increase the accessibility of services at a place where children are already going and are already comfortable.

“The money is going into different places like into the schools, into other providers who are providing services at a lower level of care which is great. Resources, education, initiatives, need to be embedded throughout our community and all of the places where our children interact and touch.”

There is no set date on when this investment actually hits organizations and schools.

Kuwahara said that the pandemic really caused their children's services department to shift in new ways than ever before. She said they have had to use a lot of virtual sessions which wasn’t the easiest transition for younger children, so they were eager to find another solution.

“We had to continue office-based services because virtual services work really well for some kids, especially teenagers who are very comfortable with virtual services. A lot of young kids really don’t adapt well to that and needed to be seen in person, so we’ve had to be just very flexible in how we work during the pandemic.”

Kuwahara expressed that they were fortunate enough to have remained as a reliable resource throughout the stages of the pandemic. She said that the practices these kids are developing now will carry on into their futures.

“When you learn how to take care of your mental health as a young person, you’re learning skills that are going to stay with you for the rest of your life.”

If you are a parent or guardian who has questions on how to guide your child through their mental health symptoms, you can contact the Kern BHRS Crisis Hotline which provides insight on how your child can receive assistance.