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Owensboro schools prepared for mental health issues resulting from pandemic

Jenni Owen is a counselor at Foust Elementary in. Owensboro.
Owensboro Public Schools
Jenni Owen is a counselor at Foust Elementary in. Owensboro.

Kentucky students continue to readjust to in-person classes after the virtual learning and changing schedules of the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Owensboro Public Schoolsare addressing mental health issues that may arise after a stressful year that has impacted families across the Bluegrass State.

There are a total of 23 counselors and social workers on staff at Owensboro Public Schools.

The district also has a partnership with Mountain Comprehensive Care, a community mental health agency, that provides six mental health professionals to the district. Those therapists can offer additional services to children and families, that would be beyond what school counselors provide. 

Summer Bell is a licensed clinical social worker who is mental health coordinator for Owensboro Public Schools.<--break-" audio="" class="wysiwyg-asset-audio-delete" description="" div="" fid="17478" href="#remove" img="" src="/sites/all/modules/contrib/wysiwyg/plugins/break/images/spacer.gif" uri="public://202111/Mental112221.mp3">

“We are seeing definitely an increase in kids, and parents, that are requesting supportive services, that includes mental health," said Bell. "We have seen an increase in anxiety. We’ve had some increase in seeing students with depression. And some are having grief issues as a result of losing loved ones as a result of COVID.”

The stress of the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted children who may be too young to know how to express their worries.

Bell said potential issues are introduced in age-appropriate settings. 

“Our school counselors go into all the classrooms and do weekly social emotional learning lessons," said Bell. "They put the emphasis on emotional regulation, relationship skills, decision making, self-awareness and self-management.”

Six new counselors have recenlty been added in the district. Four are at elementary schools and one each at the high school and Owensboro Innovation Academy. 

A licensed clinical social worker has been added at the middle school.  

Copyright 2021 WKU Public Radio. To see more, visit WKU Public Radio.

Rhonda Miller began as reporter and host for All Things Considered on WKU Public Radio in 2015. She has worked as Gulf Coast reporter for Mississippi Public Broadcasting, where she won Associated Press, Edward R. Murrow and Green Eyeshade awards for stories on dead sea turtles, health and legal issues arising from the 2010 BP oil spill and homeless veterans.
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