Local mental health organizations work with students in Hillsborough County – CBS Tampa

TAMPA, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) — A local organization is partnering with Hillsborough County schools to help students with mental health issues.

“Our children are struggling. We know they are going through a tough time,” said parent Damaris Allen.

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Allen has two boys at Hillsborough County Schools and says he’s noticed many students experiencing more mental health issues over the past two years.

“We went through collective trauma, adjusting to normal,” Allen said.

Besides the pandemic causing many students to develop anxiety and depression, she says the political state of the country is also a big factor.

“We’re incredibly divided, there’s not a lot of listening going on…there’s a lot of talking and saying these are my opinions, but there’s not a lot of listening to the other side…so of course those things flow to our kids. If we’re stressed, our kids are stressed,” Allen said.

Just as Allen noticed the mental health problem in schools, the Hillsborough County School District noticed it too.

“Baking acts for children in schools have increased,” said Joe Rutherford, CEO of Gracepoint Wellness,

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Rutherford says her organization has partnered with the district to create a mobile response team.

“It is made up of twelve dedicated employees,” Rutherford said.

It is made up of mental health experts. He says the purpose of the mobile unit is to respond to calls and help children avoid unnecessary measures.

“Coming in to calm the child down or identify other resources for that child other than the baker,” Rutherford said.

Rutherford says experts have already assessed more than 1,100 students in Hillsborough County.

“As children returned to school, there was likely a greater chance of these mental health symptoms being seen,” Rutherford said.

Allen says she’s glad the district is taking action to help students.

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“If you ever get overwhelmed if you need help, please ask. It’s not a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength,” Allen said.

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