The Woodland – Lower school counselor Amanda French said she has witnessed students at The Woodlands Christian Academy struggle with their mental health over the years.
Teachers said they recognized it but didn’t know what to do.
“Even though we’re small and our teachers can handle so much in the classroom, this is huge,” French said. “If we can prevent it when they’re young, it’s less likely to happen in middle school and high school.”
She worked with Jennifer Jadro, director of the health clinic at The Woodlands Christian Academy, who noticed the same trends.
“What I’ve noticed, especially here in the health clinic, is that students are experiencing trauma, stress, and other mental health issues that can manifest as physical symptoms.” Jennifer Jadro said. “Here in the clinic, we think we have a health problem, a physical health problem, when in reality it’s a mental health problem that needs to be addressed. You might notice it.”
She has seen students who suffer from headaches and stomach aches, but she has also seen students who are stressed about something, but she has never seen a connection between physical pain and emotional pain. I did not notice. Although Ms. Jadro felt unprepared to handle this rise, she was so passionate about helping students that she went back to school to study counseling.
“On a personal level, I realized that what I saw here in the clinic led to my growth and desire to be more helpful, so I actually started a graduate program in clinical mental health counseling.” explained Jadro. “I have been working with the administration to be able to build more programming within the school. So training for staff members, training for parents, and training for students.”
They brought on Dr. Mark Mayfield, a clinical mental health therapist, to help build a program for schools.
“I’ll probably be on campus once or twice a month, maybe more, and then parent training will be once a quarter in the evening,” Dr. Mayfield said.
He teaches a student support program at The Woodlands Christian Academy as a traffic light approach.
“A green light alert has detected this. The student’s behavior is a little strange, but I would like to document it so it doesn’t turn into a crisis. A yellow light indicates the behavior is escalating, and a red light indicates that the behavior is escalating. It’s like, “OK, I need to implement a health plan.” More wraparound services need to be involved. ” But we have established something called a student support committee here at The Woodlands Christian Academy and in all the schools that I work with. They consist of 5-6 of her and are engaged in obtaining these reports. Deciphering, ok… I need to bring my parents. ”
The good news is that he believes the solution lies at home.
“A lot of kids are using multiplayer games and VR and things like that to connect with their friends, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s 10 hours a day, 8 hours a day. So what’s important to them? We’re going to create a family culture around… maybe a few hours a day or something like that, but we’re not going to engage in that around the table at dinner. I’m going to do some extracurricular activities.”
Mayfield said the danger of too much screen time is that it interferes with important parts of a child’s development.
“Kids are so isolated that they think screen time interaction is what they need for relationships,” he says. “Our brains only develop relational connections when we engage with people face-to-face and make eye contact. So, in my opinion, only social media is neutral and can be used for better or worse. I think it can also be used. But when used too much, it creates problems with emotional connection in relationships, which gives way to loneliness.”
That’s why we believe that when children bring whole villages together at home and at school, we create healthier future generations.
“A big part of what we do is our relationships with parents who can help students get the care they need,” Jadro said.
“I feel like we’re in a time where it’s important to start young,” French said. “Preventing it before you intervene is very important.”
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