FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – As students and teachers return to schools, mental health is becoming a focal point.
Fort Wayne Community Schools Superintendent Mark Daniel says mental and behavioral health issues are prevalent across the country and his district is no different. He says research shows that 1 in 10 teenagers attempt suicide.
“The isolation that our students have had, the fact that they are coming back, even though they were back last year, it still weighs heavily on their minds I think, and we need to provide that extra service,” said said Daniel.
To combat the problem, Daniels says the Fort Wayne Community Schools have hired behavioral specialists and added extra time with the Bowen Center, the district’s mental health provider. Daniel says the funding comes primarily from ESSER funds from the district.
Daniels says they’ve also been creative in implementing new programs to discuss these issues, have time to reflect, and find ways to ease stress. Not only for students, but also for staff.
“We also added a program where our teachers can have 24/7 access to a mental health care provider, a therapist if you will, because we know we all struggle,” said said Daniel. “And again, we know when stress tends to mess us up and then we tend to progress to depression and other symptoms, so we try to keep everyone’s battery charged both the physical and mental batteries. , and we want to have those discussions.
Daniels says that every week counselors and counselors meet to discuss how things are going, their academic plans, and to build relationships. He says they knew they had to do something different from last year to close the gaps they saw in numeracy and literacy scores. Ensuring the well-being of students and staff is one such strategy.