MUSD offers extra mental health services as classes go online

Keeping students mentally healthy

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - The Marana Unified School District entered its first full week of school on Monday, Aug. 10, but students did not return to campus. Instead, they logged onto their classes at home.

This new way of learning is presenting new challenges.

“The two biggest challenges are a lack of routines, the other big issue is a lack of social connectedness,” said Katherine Newton, a psychologist with MUSD.

Newton says limited socialization may cause more students to struggle this semester. MUSD hopes to address the potential need.

“The district prioritized adding to the psychologist team,” said Newton. “So, we have a bigger team this year.”

A spokesperson for MUSD told KOLD News 13 the district is "proud to have counselors at every single school, with multiple counselors, psychologists and social workers at the middle and high schools."

Virtual support groups are on the horizon.

“All of the counselors are going to teach three social emotional lessons to kids, and they are going to focus on health and safety and coping skills,” said Bruce Hesse, and intervention counselor at Mountain View High School.

With students no longer walking the hallways, help might seem further away.”The counselors and the psychologists; we make a point of walking around, checking in, becoming an extra friendly face,” Newton said.

Mental health workers will have to rely more on teachers who are trained to look for signs of distress and depression.”[Things to watch include] changes in grades, changes in attitude, blurting out, having a negative attitude,” Newton said.

“Sometimes behavior is really a reflection of the issues that a kid has going on,” Hesse said.

Teachers will privately reach out to students and their families, making referrals to support services when needed.

However, children who are in a difficult living situation may be concerned about being overheard.

“Students; especially if they are in crisis, we can meet with them at any point,” Newton said. “This is a temporary challenge and we are all going to get through it together.”

Marana Unified School District is also offering counseling to teachers and staff who are impacted by the stresses of the pandemic.

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