CABARRUS COUNTY, N.C. — Cabarrus County Schools said its students are seeing major mental health problems. They’re ranging from a lack of healthy coping skills to mental health hospitalizations.
At a school board meeting Tuesday, staff talked about the resources they have and the resources they still need to help students' well-being.
"Mental health is real, and our students are vastly affected by it," Keshia Sandidge, Cabarrus County School Board Member, said. "And I don't think we pay enough attention. I'm not saying the district, I'm just talking about as a whole people."
Amy Jewell, CCS Director of Student & Family Support, said the district has helped almost 5,000 students in just three months alone. Services range from individual counseling to parent education.
School mental health teams have intercepted and deescalated health crises.
"One healthy, supportive, connected adult in the child's life makes a huge difference," Jewell said. "So I think no matter what the response level is, that's really our role there is to make sure that each child who's impacted, feels supported and knows where to go."
Some students have even been referred to outside treatment centers and Jewell said there are resources weeks after a traumatic incident.
"We can always provide to a student," Jewell said. "It might not be, you know, 10 extra counselors on campus but what we would provide, the referrals that we would make the checking-in sessions, anything like that, that can be accessed anytime a student needs it."
Students are responding to help. The district says they’re self-reporting, talking about mental health, and engaging in treatment.
"I just really want to encourage students to talk to somebody to say something to not be okay, is okay," Sandidge said.
The district also offers free mental health services for students who can’t afford them through collaborative mental health partners in and out of the school setting.
There are 22 community mental health providers currently working with the district.
They’ll need increased and continued outside funding to sustain services like this. Some current mental health resources are funded through the temporary COVID-relief money school received during the onset of the pandemic.
"Hopefully, there'll be more right as legislation gets passed, and things come down from the state," Jewell said.
The district says despite wanting more resources for mental health if a student is in need someone will be there.