Local school districts sees increase in mental health for students


PEORIA (Heart of Illinois ABC) — Students returning to the classroom for the 2021-2022 school year is the closest students have gotten to a "normal" in-person learning experience in years.

But after so much time spent in the online classroom, school leaders said they’re seeing a spike in issues of depression, anxiety and aggression.

On Monday, three fights broke out at Bloomington High School in a matter of hours.

Peoria Public School’s Director of Social and Emotional Learning Derrick Booth said he’s seeing this mental health support need among even the youngest of students.

"Kindergarteners and first grade students, this is their first time doing school," Booth said. "When they were 100% remote for the last year and a half, a lot of those in person skills, they weren’t able to learn."

Booth said teachers are noticing that kids are less motivated to learn and their demeanors are different.

A student’s struggle with grief and conflict resolution outside the classroom follows them them into class.

The result of this? Booth said those student’s attendance and grades have slipped since 2019.

"When we see students slipping in those areas, we want to be sure to be intentional about asking them ‘Can we help? Is something going on?" Booth said.

Booth said PPS has partnered with counseling services like Children’s Home and FamilyCore to help students improve their mental health.

For teachers, Peoria County Regional Superintendent Beth Crider said the district is providing trauma training.

"To say that you have the knowledge and the information again that tool in your toolkit, so that you can respond to children and their needs, especially in the mental health world," Crider said.

Booth and Crider said while focusing on student’s mental health is important, caring for adults that pour into children like teachers and family members is important as well.

Booth said the Wraparound Center provides mental health resources for both students and community members seeking help.

News,Region: Peoria,City: Peoria,Central


September 16, 2021 at 11:07PM

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