Mental health agencies expect increased pressure for services with extension of school closures – KCRG

Posted: April 18, 2020 at 11:53 am

This post was added by Alex Diaz-Granados

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) With kids out of school for the remainder of the year, local mental health agencies say that is going to put more pressure on the need for their services.

But, NAMI of Linn County's Executive Director says they and other mental health agencies are adapting to help families and especially, students navigate mentally through these times.

"We do have on the first Thursday and third Thursday a virtual online support group for families and there are some crisis lines and warm lines also available," said Mona McCalley-Whitters Ph.D.

Now, with the Governor's announcement that schools will remain closed throughout the remainder of the year, she says they expect to feel more pressure to provide support to students and parents.

"Its just going to make it more challenges for them to make sure their kids get the necessary educational requirements, so come next year or whenever they go back into the classroom so they are not having a gap in learning," she added.

She says that is likely going to cause even more anxiety and worry. One of the main challenges they expect for older kids, mainly college students is finding employment.

"Even just think about trying to navigate having a telephone interview and thats your main way to get your next job. That is going to be a challenge to successfully connect with employers," said McCalley-Whitters.

However, she says they are collaborating with organizations including Linn County Public Health, the Abbe Center, and area hospitals to do what they can.

"We are all joining together and putting out a unified message to the business community to the mental health community to let them know its ok to not be ok," she said.

That partnership includes developing more resources like support groups aimed towards the student population. Just this week, Tanager Place started their high school virtual support group, and Whitters says there is more in the works.

"Were also working on some things for mental health awareness. In the month of May we're talking about having a webinar," said McCalley-Whitters.

For now, they're urging students and parents to focus on what they can control.

"Just stay connected with educators and have good daily habits," she said. "Keeping a good routine so that they are ready and engaged on their educational online classes," she said.

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Mental health agencies expect increased pressure for services with extension of school closures - KCRG

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