BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) –
It’s been a rough year for almost everyone, especially children.
“Locally, we have seen an increased need of our patient services for children and adolescents needing mental health services,” said Ann Wing, Northwest Florida Health Network network coordinator.
Local students in particular were hit with two traumas.
Health officials with Northwest Florida Health Network and Bay District Schools both agreed our students haven’t had it easy.
”They haven’t had a full normal, if you will, school year since before Hurricane Michael,” Wing said.
”Frankly we have been dealing with significant increases in mental health issues since Hurricane Michael,” Bay District Schools mental health counselor Ken Chisholm said.
Chisholm believes middle and high school students have really struggled.
”It has a definite impact on their learning. Kids also have access to things that are dangerous like alcohol and drugs,” Chisholm said.
”I think that they’ve all been affected in one way or another. Teenagers’ socialization has been hugely affected,” Wing said.
A lot of children are struggling, but how can we identify someone in need?
”They may complain of a headache, they may complain of a stomach ache. We see that a lot of times in younger (kids),” Wing said. “If you see a child is withdrawing more. If they’re not participating in activities that they typically in the past have participated (in).”
Wing said one step in the right direction is just having someone these kids can talk to.
”Listening sometimes is an important step that we can take. Hearing what they have to say about their current situation,” Wing said.
If things escalate, Wing suggests getting the child into mental health services as soon as possible.
To learn more about student wellness at Bay District Schools, click here.
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