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UK psychologist: “Back to school is a pivotal time for children’s mental health”

Dr. Alissa Briggs, psychologist in the UK division of adolescent medicine, addressing reporters in a Zoom briefing.
Dr. Alissa Briggs, psychologist in the UK division of adolescent medicine, addressing reporters in a Zoom briefing.

School is starting back up across the Commonwealth and that can be a stressful time for students. The ongoing pandemic, news of recent school shootings and the flooding in eastern Kentucky are taking a toll on young people. Officials say a mental health crisis is affecting the whole country.

Dr. Alissa Briggs is a psychologist in the UK division of adolescent medicine. She said school can be a good stabilizing place for many young people.

“Schools have really expanded the mental health services available on the school site. So many schools have hired mental health specialists to be able to provide mental health intervention at the school site.”

Unfortunately, some young people who are in distress resort to suicide. Briggs said kids often feel the most vulnerable when they are changing schools.

“It’s important to be aware that suicide is a real risk for all adolescences and then especially we want to pay attention to kids during those times of transition where some of those protective factors become a little weaker.”

Briggs adds that suicide is the second leading cause of death in young people ages 10-to-24 years old. She said it is important for parents to speak and most importantly, to listen to their children. They are also encouraged to reach out to the school guidance counselors for resources that could help.

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Stan Ingold is WEKU's News Director. He has worked in public broadcasting for 18 years, starting at Morehead State Public Radio before spending the past 10 years at Alabama Public Radio. Stan has been honored with numerous journalism awards for his public radio reporting.
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