‘The Isolation We All Felt Set In,’ Maple Grove Forum Addresses Mental Health Needs
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics there’s a “national emergency” when it comes to kids and mental health. On Wednesday night, school leaders and public safety officials held a forum in Maple Grove to discuss ways to help kids struggling with their mental health.
“Normalizing the discussion around mental health is really important,” said Kevin Anderson, Hennepin County commissioner who helped organize the forum.
School leaders say the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated mental health needs for kids.
“That sense of belonging eroded a bit,” said Cory McIntyre, superintendent of Osseo Area Schools. “The isolation we all felt set in.”
Most schools in Hennepin County now have a mental health professional on site. Anderson says that’s vital in helping recognize kids that might be in crisis.
“Being able to find ways of connecting to students at that moment and in that space is hugely important,” said Anderson.
Parents also attended the forum and brought up challenges that both kids and schools face.
“They aren’t learning in school how to handle their emotions and these are some really big feelings that are happening in middle school and high school,” said parent Lauren Bialon.
Those feelings were made more intense last year after a shooting at Plymouth Middle School in which a student fired multiple shots into a hallway ceiling. Plymouth Public Safety Director Erik Fadden spoke about the incident.
“We have spent countless hours working with school staff and mental health professionals to find those gaps,” said Fadden. “If the pandemic ever swings to where we’re doing this again we have to keep kids connected.”
You can watch the entire forum here.