Mental health professionals discuss returning to school after EKY floods

HAZARD, Ky. (WYMT) – As many people in Eastern Kentucky face a long way to go after the flooding, mental health professionals are reminding everyone to value children’s mental health as well.

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Many might say that the stressors facing children in Eastern Kentucky are only getting worse.

“The four or five years with COVID, with vaccines, with masks and now with floods, there are a lot of unknowns for our children right now,” said James Fugate, principal of Robinson Elementary School.

With many students in eastern Kentucky back to school, medical professionals said it’s crucial to focus on children’s mental health.

“Children manifest anxiety and other concerns in a very different way than we do as adults,” said Scott Lockard, director of public health for the Kentucky River District Health Department.

Catching these changes early can prevent stress or trauma from getting worse and can even save their life.

“If you see more aftershocks or more door slamming or just reckless behavior at home or outside the house, stop and think if maybe anxiety or depression could be at the root of it. origin of this,” said Dr. Alissa C. Briggs, a psychologist in the Division of Adolescent Medicine at the University of Kentucky.

Dr Briggs said that while it may be an adjustment for some students, school can provide a sense of routine and normalcy for children who have experienced trauma.

“Really, the last thing we want to do for these kids is keep them home, because that just adds to the anxiety,” she said. “It tells of the anxiety, ‘you know what, you’re right, it’s a scary place, we better stay home.’

Lockard added that even if your child doesn’t act differently, it’s still important to check in.

“Be careful of this kid who seems to be handling everything perfectly,” Lockard said. “Sometimes they also need to talk, but they feel like for some reason they can’t say, ‘Oh, I need to talk about this’, because that’s a sign of weakness. “

Lockard said it’s very important to make sure kids have someone to talk to about their feelings and offer them the resources they need.

“It’s about building the resilience of our children and helping them realize that whatever we’re going through, they’ll have a network of people who care about them, support them and that everything will be okay,” said Lockard added. .

If you are looking for mental health resources for your children, you can contact their school’s guidance counselor or contact one of the organizations listed below:

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