HAGERSTOWN, Md. (WDVM) — There’s no doubt the pandemic has shed light on several issues and that includes mental health, especially within children. The Hopeful Future’s Campaign released a report card ranking each state on how they tackle mental health in schools.
In 2021 experts declared a national state of emergency for youth mental health.
“We saw mental health challenges increasing tremendously, pre pandemic for young people, were suicide rates going up and even increasingly, so during the pandemic. So it’s something we all need to be concerned about right now,” said Dr. Sharon hoover, Psychiatry professor, and co-director for the National Center for School Mental Health at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.
America’s school mental health report card ranks Washington D.C. #3, Maryland #10 and Virginia #21.
Mental health experts say that’s a great score but schools in the D.M.V can definitely do better.
“Virginia could improve upon the ratios of professionals to students in schools so the number of school psychologists and school counselors for example,” said Hoover.
As for Maryland and D.C. Hoover says schools need to do more mental health well checks.
“So we’re not doing a great job in terms of systematically screening young people for mental health concerns, or school connectedness and school. Belongingness,” she said.
Dr. Hoover says the journey to improving mental health should be a team effort.
“We have to take a look at what our state guidelines and even some of the mandates that really will help advance school mental health again, both locally but also at a state level,” she said.
She also mentioned a lot of students’ mental health issues are taken on by teachers.
“I think that mental health of young people needs to be attended to but that it can’t fall on the shoulders of teachers alone. So teachers are telling us yes, we want mental health attended to but we need professionals in the schools to do that,” she said.
Hoover is asking family members to be aware of the signs of mental health issues like declining grades, mood swings, disinterest in activities and more.