LIVERPOOL, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Liverpool Central Schools students are struggling with mental health in alarming numbers. For some, getting back to school full-time was a relief, but for others it was a difficult transition.
“Those who are falling asleep in class, those who are having a lot of physical symptoms who are in crisis and may not be able to use their words but are actually using their actions to let us know that they are having difficulties,” said School Counselor at Liverpool Elementary School Sabrina Mackey, speaking on ways kids show signs of poor mental health.
Director of Student Services at Liverpool Central Schools Jennifer Dibianco said the pandemic is largely to blame for this lack of communication.
“A lot stems from when students didn’t have the connections with their friends, with social outlets that were in-person and we know that they’re connected to their phone and some of them are gaming,” said Dibianco.
This lack of connection can cause detrimental effects on students’ mental health, causing behavioral changes in even the youngest students.
“Some of the differences are students are having more issues socially, especially the younger ones who didn’t have the typical K and first grade didn’t have those experiences, didn’t have those social interactions to be able to get the basics down,” Mackey said.
Students are lacking the social and coping skills that come with being able to interact with other kids, which they missed out on during virtual learning.
Liverpool Central Schools have taken measures including having a state trooper come in to do a presentation on cyber-bullying and online predators. Social media addiction is another growing concern for student mental health.
“As we’re seeing, students were very dependent on social media and the only way to connect with some of their friends for a while was with gaming, with phone use, with texting with different apps that they’re using,” Dibianco said.
Teachers and staff are not alone in this effort to help students struggling, as different organizations in the community are providing resources.
“We’re partnering with Contact Community Resources and they’re providing something called QPR for our teachers and families, it stands for Question, Persuade and Refer, so this is basically recognizing the warning signs of any kind of mental health crisis, and how to question, persuade and refer someone for help,” Dibianco said.