Coronavirus Update: NYC unveils mental health resources for students

Coronavirus update for NYC
NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- The coronavirus pandemic has been tough on so many, including children, and New York City schools plan to address it with mental health screenings for students.

Mayor Bill de Blasio, First Lady Chirlane McCray and Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza announced their mental health plan to support students this fall as part of the 2021 Student Achievement Plan.

The first phase will focus on the 27 communities hardest hit by COVID-19, with plans to make these critical mental health supports available to students citywide.

The mental health plan includes screening students socially, emotionally, and academically, while also calling for the hiring of additional social workers.

"The trauma of the pandemic has been acutely felt by our youngest New Yorkers," de Blasio said. "In New York City, we believe that mental healthcare is a human right, and our students will not navigate this pain and grief alone. Now with our school communities, we will give our kids the emotional support they need to succeed in a safe and supportive environment."

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The mental health plan is a three-pronged approach to confront the trauma and mental health crisis faced by students, with the Department of Education making social, emotional, and academic behavior screeners available for all students K-12; hiring 150 additional social worker; and adding a community school in each of the 27 neighborhoods.

"Now, more than ever, it's important that we are able to pinpoint and address student strengths, weaknesses and areas of concern," McCray said. "The pandemic has tested everyone's ability to work through some pretty tough challenges, and when children head back to school, each with their own mix of emotions, they will need more support than ever."

This first phase will serve approximately 380,000 students across approximately 830 schools, and the plan includes partnerships with community-based organizations.

"Students are only able to succeed academically when their social and emotional needs are being met, and we are only now starting to understand how this crisis is impacting our young people," Carranza said. "Building on what we know works as we look ahead, we know we'll use these tools and resources to provide our school communities with the ability to confront and address trauma while fostering a safe, supportive environment for all students."

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A social emotional screening is an evidence-based tool that facilitates a check-in on how students are doing emotionally and assesses a general sense of wellbeing, based on the observations made by the adults in school that know them best.

The results of the screening will be analyzed by a school-based team to guide school-wide programming, elevate and address needs of specific students who might need additional care, and coordinate between parents, counselors, social workers, and clinicians to provide interventions that meet the unique, personalized needs of that particular student.

Currently, every school has access to a social worker or guidance counselor, with plans to expand that pool.

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