Mental health clinicians at the Dallas ISD have helped process these events. Both Hector Soto and Cheryl Culberson work for the district’s mental health services.
Soto is a clinician working at the Eddie Bernice Johnson Youth & Family Center. Culberson is the Alcohol and Drug Intervention Coordinator at Wilmer Hutchins Youth and Family Center. Both share what their jobs have been like in 2022, including how it’s impacting the mental health of their students.
What students are working on in 2022
Cheryl Culberson: Various things students are working on [are] Trauma, grief, and loss. COVID, the pandemic, was a big part of it. It caused unrest and also caused school shootings. There are layers of different things going on in our students’ lives.
Hector Soto: At yesterday’s parent-teacher conference, I was asked what words and phrases can be summed up in one word. [this year] Up. The answer was incredible. I was complicated, stressed and anxious.lots of parents [said] Their children normalize many difficulties in their communities and schools.
Training staff to recognize mental health issues in students
Culberson: This year you and I participated in mental health first aid training to assist our staff and provide resources to equip them with the knowledge to connect with resources when situations arise. Empower yourself to be part of the health service so we can pick up the ball from there.
do: A few years ago I had the privilege of working on the school side. In my eight schools, all of them were unique, individual, living, breathing organisms that changed each day.
One time I was at work and the bus driver said, “I think you should wait and see how he is. I always tell bad jokes, but today I’m just angry.” And it turns out there was a backstory to why he took certain actions. Bravo to that school bus driver, I still remember his name.
Culberson: And again this year, I participated in the training and support of bus drivers. Our presentation was basically focused on optimism and how it is our first line of defense. You can keep yourself healthy, connect with young people on your route, and connect them to resources when you see red flags.
How Parents and Guardians Support Students
do: Every day, every hour, every minute, every second of a child’s life must be taken care of. I understand it’s difficult. Sometimes he works three jobs and doesn’t have weekends. But you are your child’s best therapist. No one knows your child better than you. I think segregation is the problem we have now. Ask questions and give them the opportunity to express themselves.
Culberson: And be present and active. That’s what matters to parents. Be there to communicate openly with them. As long as you are attractive, you can lead them.
Soto also recommends the book Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters: 10 Secrets Every Father Should Know by Meg Meeker. Why Do They Act That Way?: A Survival Guide to the Adolescent Brain for You and Your Teens, by David Walsh. and Lost in School: Why Kids With Behavioral Challenges Are Going Through the Cracks and How to Help Kids by Ross W. Green.
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