S.C. education department launches website to support children’s mental health during pandemic

Making The Grade

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WBTW) – State educators are trying to get more mental health resources to families and teachers with students struggling during the coronavirus pandemic.

Mental health in the U.S. is being called a crisis within the pandemic. A new CDC study says about 40% of adults were struggling with mental health at the end of June.

Those issues are also being seen in children, many of whom haven’t been inside schools in five months.

“A lot of kids that I’ve been seeing in counseling, they’re really excited to get back to school, which is funny because you really think kids like the summer to keep going on,” said Sandy Quast, who owns Coastal Haven Counseling in Carolina Forest.

Quast says the social isolation from not being in classrooms is taking its toll on kids.

“They look forward to having fun in gym class, hanging out with their friends at lunch and joining clubs,” she said. “I know there’s a lot of anxiety and depression related to extracurricular activities.”

To help families and teachers, South Carolina’s education department launched a website dedicated to social-emotional learning on Friday. The goal is to help families or teachers find resources for kids who need them.

The education department also says the site will help teach students behavioral lessons that are hard to replicate outside of in-person classes.

“They focus on things like responsible decision making, relationship skills, awareness and self-management,” said education department spokesperson Ryan Brown. “Parents and teachers both have tools that are responsive to their varied needs.”

COVID-19 cases, death and hospitalizations can change in a county or statewide, which makes it hard to know how long kids can be in classrooms. That’s even if it’s even safe for in-person classes at all.

Quast says that uncertainty could be harmful for teachers, parents and families.

“Especially with special needs kids and autistic kids, they don’t like change of routine, so I feel like that’s going to be extra anxiety-provoking for those children,” Quast said.

If you’d like to check out the resources, go to sel.ed.sc.gov.

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