Mental health top priority for many Kansas schools during pandemic

Posted at 11:58 AM, Apr 21, 2020

OLATHE, Kan. — Schools districts in Kansas are working around the clock to make sure their students get what they need in terms of mental health care.

"We are really concerned about our students just having their routine just completely disrupted," said Angie Salava, director of social emotional learning and mental health services for Olathe Public Schools.

Salava said parents in Olathe have multiple resources to help their students, starting with a website which provides parents videos and guides on their child's emotional state of mind.

Counselors and social workers are also available to see students via video chat "for those who might just need a little bit of extra help or those who are currently seeing somebody when school shut down," Salava said.

There have been more than 400 requests for counseling sessions, according to Salava.

The Kansas City, Kansas, School District is offering similar services.

"Parents and students are certainly utilizing social work services now more than ever because there are resources that they need that maybe they were already getting when they were at school," said Angela Dunn, behavioral health coordinator for KCK schools.

Komal Kaur is a sophomore at Olathe East High School. She said teens need a resource like tele-counseling right now.

"We need to be there and we need someone — to know that there is someone there for us," Kaur said.

Kaur said she feels students shouldn't be ashamed of getting help, but rather empowered.

"Knowing that your counselors are there to talk to you and help you is something I think is really important, because some of us are just scared to speak about what is going on," Kaur said.