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Danvers, MA: High school sees increase in mental health issues; opens centers to address problems

Sept 3, 2018, Salem (MA) News: Schools address mental health needs for students For a student with anxiety, walking through the front doors of school among hundreds of bustling peers and teachers can be daunting, stressful, and for some just too much. This year, students with anxiety at Danvers High won't have that problem. Instead, students in need of support can use a separate door, right next to the school's new Therapeutic Learning Center, where they'll be met by a teacher, social worker, or aide. Like many local schools, Danvers High has seen an increase in mental health issues among students in recent years, according to Principal Jason Colombino. Schools on the North Shore, and the state, aren't alone as they create programs and hire staff to support students with anxiety and depression. Mental health among teens has become a national concern. After studying programs in Salem and Swampscott, Danvers High is launching its new learning center for students with different mental health needs, including those returning to school after an extended hospital stay, according to Assistant Superintendent Katrina Esparza…. The center will be geared to students who are struggling with anxiety and/or depression — more common issues — according to Esparza. … "I'm really excited for the students who do need that additional support because it has always been available, but now the process to getting it is going to be more streamlined," she said. Mental health across the region According to the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 12.8 percent of adolescents had a major depressive episode that year, meaning for at least two weeks they felt low energy, disengaged, and possibly experienced other symptoms of depression. …

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