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Supporting Student Mental Health As They Return to School

Lidia Harding
For parents Programs School-based
Supporting student mental health

Thanks to the support of a generous East King County community, YES is able to provide resources to support student mental health prepare  for the upcoming, unpredictable school year.

When schools closed in 2020, many students experienced loneliness, fear, upheaval and grief. Some lost loved ones, others saw their parents lose their jobs and their families sink into poverty.

Now students are preparing for another major transition, returning to in-person education.

“After this past year, kids are worn out and now they need even more energy to transition back to in-person learning. It’s just a lot for them and they are feeling overwhelmed,” observed Kristie Neklason, Director of School-Based Services.

Helping students ease back in

For youth who are experiencing increasing levels of anxiety as they prepare to return to in-person activities, finding a supportive environment is crucial. Highland Middle School students will find that space at the third annual Highland Health Center Summer Camp. The camp, a partnership between YES and International Community Health Services, will provide students opportunities to socialize, have fun, learn new skills, and move their bodies.

YES clients can also build their confidence through YES’ Summer Hiking Group. Led by two YES co-occurring disorder counselors, the group is designed for youth experiencing depression or anxiety who are looking to get outside, be active, and interact with their peers.

Helping identify anxious students

Thanks to voters who approved the Best Starts for Kids Levy in 2015, YES has been able to implement SBIRT (Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment), a universal mental health screening program for middle school students.

As students return to school, the screening will help YES and school staff identify students who might be at risk for, or are currently experiencing, a behavioral health concern and connect them with support services and programs.

Helping improve access to services

Thanks to our community’s support at the onset of the pandemic, YES was able to quickly implement TeleHealth services creating a new way for children, youth and families to access mental health and substance use services and programs. YES plans to permanently adopt virtual access to support the mental health needs, of youth and parents in our community.

How you can support student mental health today

Not one child has experienced this pandemic in the same way, and no young person will be returning to school in the same way either. But they do have the common experience of facing this challenge together. Kristie Neklason advises parents and caregivers to:

“Recognize and acknowledge their growth. Continue to check in with them, and ask them questions. Ask them to tell you their experience.”

You can be a lifeline in a young person’s life today by making your gift to provide youth with hope for a brighter tomorrow! Whether you donate $5 or $500, every gift will make a difference in the life of a child or youth seeking hope and recovery.Donate to youth mental health services

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