CUSSETA, Ga. (WTVM) - One school district is putting the mental health of their students first during this school year due to COVID-19.
A study conducted at the national level says roughly 72 percent of children ages five through 17 are suffering from some sort of mental condition triggered by the coronavirus.
To help students cope with that, Chattahoochee schools are focusing more on mental health awareness and making sure every child is heard in their Free Your Feels program.
Fifth-grader Taylor Leach said with her counselor’s help, she has been able to work through feelings like anxiety.
“It makes you feel better. It makes you talk to people a different way. It just makes you feel better is what I should say,” Taylor said.
Thanks to the heightened focus on mental health, the district has built counseling sessions into every student’s class schedule who meets with counselors like, Hunter Miller, once a week.
“I also do guidance lessons with the whole school," Miller said. "So, during their specials, they will come in and I will go over coping skills, how to manage anger, and how to manage big feelings.”
Multiple outside organizations have also partnered with Chattahoochee County School District, including Fort Benning, New Horizons, Viewpoint Health, and Care Connect just to name a few. Together, these agencies will make their services available for the district to use.
Fifth-grader Khloe Pergola said the most important takeaway she has learned so far from participating in in-school counseling is talking about her feelings, instead of suppressing them.
“One thing that I think is really important is to communicate,” Khloe said.
Mental health services from any of the District’s partners are not only available to students, but also their families as well, according to Kenyada Head, principal of Chattahoochee Elementary School.
“I do believe that it is important for our students to be mentally well in order to do well academically," he said. "That means that things need to be going good, not just here at school, but at home too.”
The Chattahoochee County School District is one of the first in the Valley to adopt a program with an emphasis on mental health. All these resources and more are available at all the schools within the district.