School districts focusing on mental health awareness

Local News

(WTAJ) — Since the pandemic began, some agencies are reporting an increase in mental health calls.

First responders in Altoona said they have had as much as a 9% increase.

And it’s not just adults, experts said kids are being impacted as well.

Local school districts said there is a need for mental health awareness and support, which they are now providing to their students.

“This year there’s been a lot of uncertainty, just with the day-to-day planning and routine, since they are so used to going to school, they are getting more withdrawn and more prone to mental health, depression, anxiety,” Hollidaysburg Area Senior High School Guidance Counselor David Herncane said.

That inconsistency is being felt by students around Pennsylvania.

Some school districts said the effects are so noticeable their making changes, taking a full day for students to focus on their emotional and physical well-being.

“Students were getting very fatigued from being sedentary and sitting in front of a computer every day going from one class to the next class to the next class and also very isolated as well so in a way to try and help other aspects besides their academic performance we decided to do wellness Wednesday,” Windber High School Principal Scott McClain said.

And it’s not just virtual learning, students returning to school have additional resources.

“We also still wanted to have a wellness activity embedded in the school day but then they get to go home after lunch and they have half a day to go and do any of those activites that we have already done through our virtual platform,” Windber Middle School Principal

Both schools said support is also needed for the staff and teachers, who are dealing with these same changes as the students.

If you or a family member is experiencing mental health issues such as stress anxiety or depression, it’s important to reach out and get professional help.

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