One of the tenets of school choice is that parents get to choose the school that is best for their children, and we like to add right for their children in the context of their social, emotional, and learning needs. Picking the right school is becoming increasingly important as we continue to navigate through the challenging pandemic world.

In his report published a few weeks ago, the US Surgeon General issued this warning:

The COVID-19 pandemic further altered their experiences at home, school, and in the community, and the effect on their mental health has been devastating. The future wellbeing of our country depends on how we support and invest in the next generation. Especially in this moment, as we work to protect the health of Americans in the face of a new variant, we also need to focus on how we can emerge stronger on the other side. This advisory shows us how we can all work together to step up for our children during this dual crisis.”

He also notes that before COVID, mental health challenges were the leading cause of disability and poor life outcomes in young people, with “up to 1 in 5 children ages 3 to 17 in the U.S. having a mental, emotional, developmental, or behavioral disorder.”

Here are a few of the recommendations issued:

  • Recognize that mental health is an essential part of overall health.  
  • Empower youth and their families to recognize, manage, and learn from difficult emotions, and  
  • Ensure that every child has access to high-quality, affordable, and culturally competent mental health care. 

What can we, as parents, do?  

  1. Learn to identify warning signs in our children. The Mayo Clinic mentions these:
    Persistent sadness — two or more weeks
    • Withdrawing from or avoiding social interactions
    • Hurting oneself or talking about hurting oneself
    • Talking about death or suicide
    • Outbursts or extreme irritability
    • Out-of-control behavior that can be harmful
    • Drastic changes in mood, behavior, or personality
    • Changes in eating habits
    • Loss of weight
    • Difficulty sleeping
    • Frequent headaches or stomachaches
    • Difficulty concentrating
    • Changes in academic performance
    • Avoiding or missing school
  2. Seek help from a doctor or school counselor, and
  3. LISTEN to their concerns, fears, worries and ideas without judgment.

– Beth Harbinson, Executive Director

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