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Long Island, NY: Sharp rise in mental health problems in students; lack of recess is blamed

July 24, 2018, Long Island, NY, Greater Patchogue: The existential mental health crisis in K-12 and the need for play, recess As superintendents, principals and teachers plan for the upcoming school year, one thing is certain: we are serving a generation of children who are more anxious, depressed and suicidal than any generation before. A recent NPR Education Series broadcast states, “Up to one in five kids living in the U.S. shows signs or symptoms of a mental health disorder in a given year.” … Today, by at least some estimates, five to eight times as many high school and college students meet the criteria for diagnosis of major depression and/or anxiety disorder as was true half a century or more ago.” If that doesn’t alarm you as a parent, educator, or concerned citizen, you might have to check your pulse. The fact is, we have an existential mental health crisis in K-12 education and beyond. The big question is, what can schools do about it? … We can reference the noteworthy increases of screen time with technology, social media, cyber-bullying, diabetes and obesity in children, school shootings, standardized tests and the hyper-focus on academic scores in schools. However; I believe there is one noteworthy reason that has contributed to this mental health crisis like no other: recess and play are on the endangered species list in our public schools…. ... Over the past 50 years in the United States, recess and children’s free play with other children has declined significantly. … It’s hard to conceive that the 2017 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report on Strategies on Recess in Schools identified only eight states that have policies requiring daily recess in schools….


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