State Department of Education introduces proposals to address pandemic trauma in students
Fox 26 / January 5, 2022
On Tuesday, an official with the California Department of Education — including healthcare professionals and educators, met to address future legislation to combat learning loss during the ongoing pandemic and to focus on the concept of “learning recovery” through programs aimed at improving student’s overall mental health.
“This is not an easy time to be there for children when they are acting out with greater anger, greater frustration, and certainly greater symptoms of anxiety and depression,” Dr. Jonathan Goldfinger, a trauma researcher, and CEO of Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services.
In the months of distance learning, the pandemic revealed new statistics concerning pediatricians and school clinicians.
“About one-half of all young people in America are currently exhibiting signs of anxiety and depression,” said Dr. Goldfinger.
Other side effects from the loss of learning include a rise in PTSD and other trauma-related diagnoses as well as an increase in substance use.
“We know that the pandemic has had an impact on all children, and on learning. We know that our students are resilient and that they’ll continue to learn,” said Tony Thurmond, State Superintendent of Public Instruction.
Safety in learning made possible by a recent rise in the availability of testing kits across the state. Though improvements have been made, school districts continue to face another uphill battle – combating the mental health needs of students.
“We’re seeing the effects of trauma – getting literally underneath kids’ skin and manifesting in behaviors in our classrooms, in our homes, in our communities, our clinics – that we’ve really never seen before,” said Dr. Goldfinger.
One of those programs is a proposal between the Alliance in partnership with the Department of Education to recruit 10,000 mental health clinicians in the state. The Alliance is formed of a coalition of mental health organizations throughout California.
“We have really treated mental health differently than physical health and acted like it wasn’t as important when underneath it all, mental health is foundational to physical health,” said Dr. Goldfinger.
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