Fred Finch Youth & Family Services returned to schools as mental health in students takes center stage
December, 2021 – Oakland, Calif. – With mental health needs at record levels in youth – particularly among low-income children of color – Fred Finch Youth & Family Services, a provider of campus mental health services, is stepping up its efforts to support young people in Oakland, Hayward and Contra Costa County schools. According to a recent report by the US Surgeon General, “mental health challenges in children, adolescents, and young adults are real and widespread.”
While before the pandemic, “an alarming number of young people struggled with feelings of helplessness, depression, and thoughts of suicide — the rates of these feelings have increased over the past decade,” said Surgeon General Vivek Murthy. “The COVID-19 pandemic further altered their experiences at home, school, and in the community, and the effect on their mental health has been devastating.”
School-based counseling is a crucial tool for reaching and supporting young people in an environment that for many of them, can be triggering, particularly after a year of remote learning. When schools throughout the Bay Area returned to on-site learning in the fall, Fred Finch therapists who had been working with the children by phone and video chat, also returned. Since then, they have been assessing the mental health of students on campus.
“Students are feeling overwhelmed, anxious, and checked out,” said Nydia Mershani, Program Director of Alameda County School-Based Services at Fred Finch Youth & Family Services. “Students have not felt grounded, and the school’s energy feels more unstable. School staff, including teachers, are also feeling this collective trauma, and this may be the reason we are seeing more fighting, destructive behaviors and students presenting with suicidal ideation.”
For its part, Fred Finch has been attempting to increase staffing levels at schools throughout its service area to provide as much support as possible to teachers, administrators and students alike.
“While we can’t intervene with altercations on campus, we can be there to help kids deal with traumas that cause the behavior in the first place as well as assist by giving kids coping mechanisms to better deal with higher than normal stress levels,” said Mershani.
Fred Finch is also increasing staffing across its organization to provide more mental health care. Qualified applicants are encouraged to check out the job posting page on its website. To listen to the podcast covering school-based programs at Fred Finch Youth & Family Services, click here.