Students struggle with mental, emotional health amid COVID-19

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Distance learning and the pandemic are taking a toll on our students' mental health. Fresno Unified Student Support Services Manager Abigail Arii said they've noticed a concerning trend.

"We have seen an increase in students identified with needing support," said Arii. "From my perspective, really the beginning of the school year is when we saw an increase."

Since the pandemic, more students are reaching out and struggling with their mental health.

"We've identified an increase in students expressing need around self-injurious behaviors and suicidal ideation," continued Arii.

District officials say student mental health was already a concern even before COVID-19.

"We were already in a place where student mental health was at the forefront of our minds," said Arii.

In Fresno County, youth suicide was on the rise, with ten youth suicides in 2020, seven in 2019 and two in 2018.

Distance learning, loss of extracurricular activities and financial hardships are just some of the many impacts students have faced this year.

"They have a lot of milestones that we reflect on with fond memories, that they're missing," added Arii. "As simple as the kindergarten pumpkin patch field trip up to high school or prom night."

At Fresno Unified, the district has developed a mental health response team composed of school psychologists and social workers. They are ready to respond after-hours and on weekends, as needed.

Officials are reminding parents to stay alert for changes in a student's behavior. For resources available to parents visit their website.

If you're thinking about suicide, or if you are worried about someone you know, there is free, confidential help available anytime. Visit the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline website or call 800-273-TALK (8255).
Copyright © 2021 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.