Since the pandemic started, experts have warned of a mental health crisis facing American children that is now visibly playing out at schools across the country.
Benito Luna-Herrera, a 7th grade social studies teacher in Southern California, tells of middle school students whose post-pandemic depression led them to thoughts of suicide. Other educators say they have never seen so much school violence, anxiety, depression, substance abuse and suicide ideation.
The silver lining in Luna-Herrera’s case is that special training helped him know what to look for and how to respond to signs of a mental emergency. He is among a small but growing number of California teachers and school staff to take a course called Youth Mental Health First Aid. It teaches adults how to spot warning signs of mental health risks and substance abuse in children, and how to prevent a tragedy.
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