How counselors are helping remote-learning students with their mental health

Counseling is more important this year
Published: Feb. 5, 2021 at 4:38 PM EST
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - There’s growing evidence for some students that remote learning leads to depression and other mental health issues.

That’s making the job of school counselors even more important.

“Face-to-face isn’t necessary. The connection is what’s most important,” said Kelli Marcus, Great Lakes Learning Academy Assistant Principal and Counselor.

The lack of in-person communication has not held local counselors back.

“I think it’s actually opened up a lot of opportunities for kids or grownups who didn’t have access to counseling because of transportation or other things,” said Marcus.

“I think probably a year ago if we’d had this conversation might have been a little bit of a different story for people being comfortable. But in our situation, our teachers already have such a great connection with our students through their daily work, that it’s second nature for them,” said Dr. Sarah Parker, Counselor for Great Lakes Learning Academy.

The CDC says depression in kids ages 12 to 17 is up 31 percent this year. There’s also an increase in emergency room visits for children dealing with mental health issues.

The counselors say it’s not the online learning that’s an issue, but a lack of normalcy.

“All humans are best served when there’s routine in their life. That’s what we’re set up to cling to, what we’re most comfortable with. And it affects younger people, more often than adults,” said Marcus.

Depression comes from outside of school too.

Perhaps a family situation is going on. Maybe a parent has lost their job. Marcus and Dr. Parker says it’s hard for kids to not have control and parents should try to be open with them.

“I think as parents, we often tried to shield our children from, you know, the adult stresses, but they know that there’s something going on. And so the more we can be honest and open in our communication with our children the better, so that they also know that we’re in control, we’re aware, and we’re trying to solve a problem,” said Dr. Parker.

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