Osseo School District Prepares for Increase in Student Mental Health Concerns
More students are seeking out school counselors as they deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, school officials tell CCX News. Staff members at the Osseo School District say they’re ramping up efforts, despite dealing with their own challenges.
Emily Juaire, an assistant school counselor at Park Center Senior High, has seen a side of students we don’t often see. Those experiences have only deepened her compassion for students struggling during the pandemic.
“In my years in Park Center, I’ve never seen the need so high and not being able to get everything that I know I need to get to them,” Juaire said, referring to mental health needs.
According to the Minnesota Student Survey conducted by the Minnesota Department of Education in 2019, 62% of 11th-grade females in the Osseo School District reported feeling down, depressed or helpless.
“In high school, kids cope through friends. That’s just what they do, is talk with their friends. That’s just not there,” explained Juaire.
While 2020 survey results haven’t been released yet, staff expect the numbers of students feeling depressed or helpless to be up due to COVID-19.
“We’re definitely seeing a lot more mental health concerns at the elementary level. A lot of those have to do with anxiety,” explained Amy Paton, the Osseo School District’s elementary school counselor.
Counselors Regularly Train
Paton said counselors continually train to stay on top of new techniques. Counselors not only have to be adaptable, but they also have to be creative.
“Trying to increase our classes and teachings of mindfulness in order to deal with anxiety and things we’ve been seeing with students. It’s been a challenge and constantly changing,” said Paton.
“We have some mental health groups, medication groups. We’re trying to get kids involved as much as possible,” said Juaire.
Through efforts to help students, counselors are also reminded that they too are experiencing the effects of the pandemic.
“Having to deal with all that at home myself, it helps me at least to develop a lot of compassion and understanding for families and students,” Paton said.
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