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Danbury, CT: "Growing number of students with mental health issues"; even elem school kids

Feb 15, 2019, Danbury (CT) News Times: Early intervention key for schools to address youth mental health issues Faced with a growing number of students with mental illnesses, Danbury-area districts are embracing new tools, resources and programs that tackle social and emotional learning during the school day. Most districts emphasize an approach that teaches students to understand and regulate their emotions, while developing positive relationships. Some schools have also hired more staff to help tackle the issue. … One in five teens have or will have a serious mental illness, while suicide is the third-leading cause of death in youth 10 to 24, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Meanwhile, the rates of youth with severe depression have increased to 8.2 percent from 5.9 percent over five years, according to Local educators said it is hard to provide figures on the amount of students with mental health needs because the state does not require them to submit this information, and these students can be categorized in various ways. “It’s fair to say there is more anxiety in our culture and therefore in our student bodies,” McMorran said. “It may be that we’re simply better at picking up on cues and taking childhood maladies seriously.” … More students are also experiencing trauma — whether that be witnessing a grandfather die or a physical fight between parents, said Maureen Ruby, the Brookfield assistant superintendent. … It is more common for children to be diagnosed with depression or anxiety as they grow older, but Danbury-area schools said elementary-age students are also showing signs of mental illnesses. “Even statewide and nationally, we’re not prepared for those really young ones coming in with mood disorders,” said Laura Olson, director of pupil personnel and special services in New Milford. She added the district has a licensed clinician working specifically with kindergarten through second grade. Newtown, meanwhile, is piloting a mental health program at the elementary level. … Teachers and staff are trained to recognize when students might be battling mental health issues. …


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