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More school resources this year for students’ mental and emotional health

Aug 17, 2021, 8:38 AM | Updated: Aug 2, 2022, 12:45 pm
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FILE: Canyons School District buses, April 14, 2020. Photo: Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — More school resources will be available for students’ mental and emotional health this year. Last year saw a lot of anxiety and depression among students around Utah during a disrupted school year.

More school resources for mental and emotional health

This year as they go back to class, there will be more mental health resources in the schools.

More school nurses, counselors, psychologists, and mental health therapists are all on the team this year than at the same time last year.

“Any student who is feeling too anxious, too depressed, like, ‘I’m not enough, I can’t do this,’ we have amazing adults in the building that they can go to. And if that person is not the right person, they know who to refer them to,” said the director of student responsive services in the Canyons School District, BJ Weller.

School districts contracted with outside therapists

Canyons and the Salt Lake City School District contracted with outside therapists to add more help within the schools. Several districts also include family resources and resource centers with classes and help.

“Last year, our staff provided around 90,000 individual counseling sessions across the district. And we had 800 students report feeling suicidal. We are still seeing some intense needs,” said Weller.

He said students can also use the Safe UT app. It’s free and confidential and offers live help.

Weller said any student starting to worry again should put facts before fear: “There’s a lot of misinformation out there, a lot of misconception. I just encourage people to check their sources. Talk to the school nurse if you have questions about medical concerns. Talk to a mental health professional if you have mental health concerns.”

Mental and emotional services necessary

The chief operating officer of The Odyssey House told KSL TV she thinks there will continue to be significant amount of demand for mental health services in schools if students face more stress, isolation and anxiety.

“One of the great things is that we’re now all actually talking about it and understanding how critical mental health care is,” she said. They are contracting with the Salt Lake City School District this year.

Weller had advice for any student or adult and their overall well-being. Take deep breaths, stay active either in a sport or by walking, eat healthy, and find time to show gratitude.

Canyons, Granite, Murray and some of Jordan started Monday. The state’s largest school district, Alpine, goes back to school today, and so does the rest of the Jordan School District and Iron County.

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