During Thursday’s school committee meeting, school committee member Brian Castellanos tabled a letter on behalf of Breed middle school students highlighting the importance of updating and implementing a better mental health curriculum. (Donor Hasak)
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LYNN – The Lynn School District received a $ 60,000 grant last Wednesday from Superintendent Dr. Patrick Tutwiler said he will help provide more mental health support, citing the inclusion of social workers in schools.
During Thursday’s school committee meeting, school committee member Brian Castellanos tabled a letter on behalf of Breed middle school students highlighting the importance of updating and implementing a better mental health curriculum.
Breed students took civic engagement courses this year, and one of Ms. Jenny Winter’s eighth grades focused on mental health, including the impact of the pandemic on the issue.
Students conducted studies, researched, and spoke to students to create a Powerpoint presentation discussing the effects of mental health and its strong presence in middle and high school students.
In early June, Castellanos and former Lynn English basketball coach Antonio Anderson were invited to Winter’s course to hear this PowerPoint presentation and discuss their personal experiences with mental health.
Students wrote a letter to the school committee requesting a curriculum update and more resources for mental health awareness and support.
“That struck me deeply in my childhood and I felt compelled to activate the voices of these students and deliver a message they had written,” said Castellanos.
In the letter, the students wrote how the MA’s mental health curriculum was last updated in 1999 and they are looking for ways to resolve this dilemma.
“Many people struggle with mental health problems. Many of these issues have been brought to light because of the pandemic, ”the students wrote. “It is more important than ever that we advocate an updated curriculum that includes strategies for identifying mental health problems, cyberbullying and internet safety. We ask you, the school committee, to implement a curriculum that will improve students’ skills in dealing with mental health problems. In addition, the Lynn Public Schools (LPS) website should contain up-to-date social work information resources for families whose members have mental health problems. ”
Tutwiler said the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education had not published standards, but that LPS was working on this initiative. He said fiscal year 2022 represents the clinical support the district has been “eagerly awaiting”.
With the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines allowing the country to reopen, Castellanos said the psychological damage from the pandemic will show and schools must be ready to support it.
“This is so important for us to take it really seriously,” said Castellanos. “The wrath of mental health rests on us. We are in the middle of really difficult transitions. “
He said that mental struggles often go unseen, so it is “really important that we have a lens of trauma-sensitive practices and best practices to prevent mental harm.”
School committee member Michael Satterwhite thanked the students for their hard work and dedication to this important matter and said the ideas that came from the students during a community day were “great”.
One of those ideas, he said, was to put a “1-800” mental health number on student ID cards that must be worn around their necks.
“Mental health is something that a lot of children grapple with,” Satterwhite said. “It was never really brought up, so you kind of felt outside of things. I agree with Brian to advocate the mental health curriculum. ”
The school committee agreed to continue discussing changes and improvements that can be made in the district in terms of mental health and thanked the Breed students for making this a priority and bringing it to their attention at the Thursday evening meeting to have.
Tutwiler said there will be more resources dedicated to mental health support in the 2021-22 school year.
Allysha Dunnigan can be reached at email@example.com