Mental Health Innovation Needed as Washington Students Cope with Anxiety – A State of Reform

Students cope with increased anxiety and stress in the United States after May 24 shooting which killed 19 students and 2 teachers at Rob Elementary School in Uwalde, Texas. The shooting prompted some Washington students to ask for more mental health counselors.

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More than 100 students from Roosevelt High School in Seattle left the class on June 2 to call for more mental health counselors as well as stricter gun laws. Psychologist Dr. Jodi Daly, president and CEO of Yakima Comprehensive Health, advises adolescents in Eastern Washington. She said providers are seeing an increasing number of requests for mental health and substance abuse services across the country. But there may not be enough suppliers to manage demand.

“There is a lot of fear and trepidation about safety at the moment,” Daly said. “We see more people who want treatment, but there is a shortage of labor, so there are barriers for people seeking services. It will take all stakeholders and influential people from the community, including our government representatives, to deal with it. We have to be innovative. ”

In addition to gun violence, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to increase student anxiety, the Daily said.

“The pandemic has strengthened all our levels of isolation,” she said. “There was a shared sense of isolation. In general, we gather in a shared feeling. The strange thing about a pandemic is that there is a shared level of emotion, but we are working in silos. How do we unite people to offer a level of protection? “

Adolescents are a high-risk population for mental health problems due to the wide variety of living conditions in which they find themselves, said the Daily.

“If someone is discriminated against, is part of a violent family or has limited family support, they will be at greater risk,” she said. “There are other risks due to their environment. You can layer this risk with people reappearing [health] problems, intellectual disabilities or medical conditions. “

Adolescence is the most important period for mental and social development, Daly said, and mental health challenges can prevent students from developing healthy coping mechanisms and sleep patterns. With so much demand for help combined with a mental health workforce lackprevention strategies are crucial, she said.

Effective prevention techniques include training as many people as possible in first aid techniques, the Daily said. This teaches people to watch out for risky behaviors that may signal a problem.

“First aid for mental health is very similar to basic first aid,” she said. “It’s about educating everyone and everyone in every community. If I’m hanging out with someone who usually comes on time and whose behavior is usually consistent, but I’ve noticed in the last two weeks that it’s not on time, I need to be able to question these things. Or get someone to have a conversation to make sure it’s okay. This is community first aid. “

Comprehensive health care will host first aid for the mental health of young people of course on June 16 from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Various community members, including family members, church leaders, school systems and youth clubs, should be involved in discussions to determine how to create an environment that will help students manage their emotions, the Daily said.

“We need to have these talks and not deny them,” she said. “We need to protect our teenagers so that they can have a full discussion about what affects them. How do we create safe spaces and allow them to have that space, get out of their heads, and get what they feel out of their chests?

Adolescents need to be sure that they have support and that people take care of them, said the Daily.

“The pandemic has caused stress,” the Daily said. “We are burned out, as are the teenagers. Being kind, helpful and helpful is something we really need to consider more these days. Just telling people we think of them is helpful. It’s easy to turn off. Take a break from your phone and take a short break. There are some families who [have] family time and all phones go in one drawer. I think this needs to happen more. “

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