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*'Schools are the de facto pediatric mental health associations in this country'

June 20, 2018, Salt Lake City, Deseret News: Should your child's teacher also be their therapist? https://www.deseretnews.com/article/900022141/english-algebra-and-mental-health-schools-face-a-growing-crisis.html Today’s schools are increasingly filled with anxious, depressed students and teachers on the verge of burnout and breakdown, say Brackett and other experts, leading many districts and educational associations to list mental health as their number one concern. “Schools are the de facto pediatric mental health associations in this country," said Chelsea Prax, senior associate of the American Federation of Teachers’ Children's Health, Safety and Well-Being Program. "All of us need to ask ourselves if we’re comfortable with that.” Experts know that 1 in 5 youth experience mental illness and that half of lifelong mental illnesses begin by age 14. … In the last three school years, she’s seen the number of hospitalizations for mental illnesses like depression, anxiety, substance abuse and anorexia jump from 24 to 39 to 63 — and that was just through February of this year. Some of these problems stem from, or mask, early childhood trauma, whether through abuse, neglect or household dysfunction, like having a parent die or get divorced, seeing neighborhood violence, living with someone on drugs or simply scraping by financially, among others. These adverse childhood experiences or ACEs, can have life-long impacts, and the more ACEs a child has, the higher the risk emotional and behavioral problems, said Christina Bethell, a professor at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and director of the Child and Adolescent Health Measurement Initiative. … Despite listing mental health as a top concern, fewer than 1 in 5 school officials said their school was prepared to meet those needs, according to a 2015 survey by the American Federation of Teachers, a labor union group. It’s not that schools aren’t trying — there’s a growing push to teach social-emotional learning — but it’s often a patchwork approach, or dependent on a handful of energetic teachers, rather than fully incorporated into the curriculum, experts say. Which means many teachers know they’re on the front lines of children’s mental health treatment, but lack the training, resources, pay and connections to do what they’d like to do for children, Prax said. …