Education Matters: Managing mental health during a pandemic

Education

FRESNO, California (KSEE) – Before the COVID-19 pandemic forced the closure of schools and made playgrounds off-limits, students in Fresno County were experiencing mental health issues such as suicides and depression.

“There was such a great need out there many of our communities are rural and so they really didn’t have a lot of access to services,” said Student Services Officer Trinia Frazier.

Partnering with Fresno County Department of Behaviorial Health, the Office of The Fresno County Superintendent of Schools began an ambitious plan to place behavioral clinicians on every school campus. Two years into the five-year plan, 85 clinicians and case managers are in about 126 schools.

“These services have been wonderful to actually provide them in our schools and we also have the opportunity to work with our families as well.”

When schools had to abruptly close their doors, Fresno County found a way to continue to serve its students through tele-theraphy

“I’m so grateful for being able to provide these therapy sessions to our youth who are struggling with mental health. Continuity of care is critical,” said Frazier.

Working from home, behavioral clinicians like Veronica Sandoval are providing therapy sessions over the phone or through video chat. She is serving about 40 of her students.

“They are saying they are having a lot of panic attacks right now from being board, from not being able to interact with their peers.”

Students worried about school, parents concerned about job loss, and just putting food on the table. It’s a stressful time for families.

The county office has a caseload of over 1,500 students and has been able to make contact with nearly all of them. Clinicians aim to reach every single one of their students.

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