(WXYZ) — As COVID-19 cases rise in Michigan, schools here continue to confront unprecedented challenges, whether it's moving from an online format to classroom sessions, or the lingering question about the need to wear a mask or wondering if distance learning will make a comeback.
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The situation has affected both students and teachers, giving rise to mental health issues, which the community says needs to be addressed right away.
The principal of Washtenaw International High School & Middle Academy, Nhu Do, says “We are experiencing not just here, but across the nation, a crisis in student mental health.”
According to the Journal of American Medical Association, in the first year of the pandemic, one in four young people around the world experienced depression, and one in five experienced anxiety.
And even with classrooms opening this year, experts like Dr. Elizabeth Koschmann, the director of the University of Michigan’s TRAILS Program, say mental health challenges will continue to linger in both students and teachers.
“Coming back in the school, we see kids that are really struggling with trying to keep up academically, kids who have experienced loss and grief throughout the past18 months,” said Dr. Koschmann.
The first step is to identify the ones that need help. School counselor at Washtenaw International High School & Middle Academy, Brian Nemerovski, says he looks for symptoms that include but aren't limited to academic changes, attendance changes, difficulty sleeping, and kids complaining of headaches.
Once identified, the next step is to get them help and that’s where the Michigan Department of Education has made things easy as it's expanded mental health services in schools across the state. And the University of Michigan TRAILS program is providing teachers much-needed support to implement those services.
The Department of Education will fund the University of Michigan TRAILS program in all 56 intermediate school districts over the next three years.
NATIONAL SUICIDE PREVENTION LIFELINE