Tuscaloosa City Schools seeing spike in mental health challenges

Tuscaloosa City Schools, like almost all school systems these days, has a big challenge on its hands: Keeping its students healthy physically and mentally.

At TCS, Mental Health Coordinator Tesney Davis said she’s seen a spike in mental health challenges among the student population over the past few years. It’s little wonder though, considering the COVID-19 pandemic and fears over school shootings happening nationwide.

“There has been an increase in the need of mental health services,” Davis said. “When we were dealing with the height of COVID and people were isolated, a lot of our community providers shut down so some of these resources were not available to children. So they may have gone a long period of time without mental health intervention when they needed it. We have tried to respond with increasing our resources here at the district.”

Some signs and symptoms parents should be on the lookout for in their children include:

  • Changes in appetite
  • A loss of interest in activities
  • Changes in hygiene
  • Withdrawl or isolation
  • Change in mood
  • Anger or irritability

Davis said parents and their children may be apprehensive about starting school again in the wake of large-scale shootings like the one that happened in May in Uvalde, Texas, but she said TCS is doing everything it can to give students a safe and supporting learning environment that includes school resource officers at every school alongside extra support and training for all personnel on safety policies and procedures.

TCS employees have gotten youth mental health and first aid training, and they’ll also be doing daily check-ins on students. That gives them time to see if a student is struggling.

“We are encouraging our teachers to focus on relationships,” Davis said. “Focus on building those connections with our students. So they know what a student’s baseline is and can detect any changes they have and make sure they feel like their classroom is a safe place. So they can talk to someone about their emotions and that they have at least one caring adult that they can go to in their school.”

Tuscaloosa City Schools start back Aug. 10.

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