It comes as no surprise to any parent or guardian that the mental wellness of our students has suffered during the pandemic and that it continues well into daily life.
In a recent Pew Research report that was taken at the start of 2021, 37% of high school students surveyed at public and private schools reported that their mental health was not good during the pandemic (Pew Research). This number was especially higher among girls and LGBTQ groups.
While a school district-specific mental health survey hasn’t been completed yet, we have fielded questions on how our families can best support their child’s mental health. As most already know, our St. Anthony - New Brighton students are exceptional leaders with needs that reflect our current reality. Our leadership team recognizes that both our students and staff need support in new and innovative ways that ensure each has a purpose, a voice and a choice when they walk through our doors.
To foster these approaches to student wellness, St. Anthony - New Brighton Schools hired a new position completely dedicated to addressing the mental health needs of our students and staff. Lucy Rosario has been in the field for almost two decades, focusing on child mental health in a variety of settings. Using her Spanish to help bridge linguistic and cultural gaps with families, Rosario looks at mental health as a parallel process: if staff don’t feel good, students won’t feel good.
“There’s conflict everywhere. Inflation is happening thus stress in the home is high. We’re coming out of a pandemic, while still in a pandemic, but still taking precautions like we’re in a pandemic. Our community is trying to understand itself in a racial reckoning. We need to reframe our understanding of mental health, because everything boils down to the stew of the culture, community and climate that we live in,” said Rosario.
St. Anthony - New Brighton Schools believes in the brilliance of each student and embraces them with audacious love and uncommon trust. We continue to create learning spaces that ensure mutual trust and respect between students, teachers and staff. This can be difficult work especially when what one student or staff needs can be completely different from another.
“We want to prepare our students for a world that isn’t yet known. We can start to do this by providing a safe, engaged and informed learning space that builds resilience and compassion. This is crucial to giving our students the best chance in our global world,” said Rosario.
Director of Student Services, Hope Fagerland, recognizes the myriad of barriers to mental health access. When that is lowered, students, regardless of income or other accessibility issues, can find the help they need.
“Similar to our physical health, mental health can be a barrier when things aren't right. Having systems and structures in place that can help support staff and students as a whole is imperative,” said Fagerland.
We are very excited and fortunate to have Rosario join the St. Anthony - New Brighton team! Throughout the year, we will continue to share information on student wellness and we encourage you and your family to seek mental health services if needed. Lucy Rosario can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.