SLOCOMB, Ala. (WDHN) — The uncertainty of last school year such as restrictions, shutdowns, switching to virtual learning, all had a huge impact on the mental state of students.
“The unknowns of will we be able to stay in school and can we have sports and all of the things kids care about the social interaction at school really weighed heavily on students we noticed that,” Geneva County School Superintendent Becky Birdsong said.
The Geneva County School System has always cared about the well-being of its students however it didn’t become a huge issue until a couple of years ago.
“I would say the past two or three years we saw a really strong need in an uptick in the number of students who have severe mental health needs and need a counselor on-site at school and that’s really changed in education I think,” Birdsong said.
Therefore, a couple of years ago, Geneva County Schools called back a retired counselor to serve as their licensed professional to help students struggling with their mental health.
“We are contracting with her for even more counselors using our ESSER funds to have more counselors in our school and people available, so when our principals see someone who may be contemplating suicide or they cut themselves at home or at school,” She said.
Birdsong said the pandemic is not the blame for all of the mental issues students may have as it can be related to something at home or their dating life. She encourages parents to communicate with school administrators if they need counseling and keep a close eye on their social media.
“But nowadays with Facebook and Snapchat, Instagram kids can know by looking at their friend stories about where they are and what they are doing so they really never get away from it so it’s a bigger need than ever before for this kind of thing.” She added.