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City to launch mental health screening for 2021 school year after tumultuous year

Posted at 5:47 PM, Dec 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-21 17:47:20-05

NEW YORK CITY — There is a clear correlation between mental health and children’s ability to function and learn optimally. This year has no doubt been a challenge for students.

Cognitive psychotherapist Niro Feliciano said when kids have anxiety or suffer from depression, it affects their learning and ability to focus, primarily impacting executive functioning skills that allow humans to complete tasks.

Starting in September, New York City is launching social, emotional and academic screeners for K-12 public school students to assess their well-being.

The city will begin in the 27 communities hardest hit by COVID-19, setting up a community school in each of those neighborhoods.

The city has committed to hiring 150 additional social workers to address kids' needs.

Each student screening will need parental consent.

Schools chancellor Richard Carranza said the assessment will consist of a questionnaire that will take less than five minutes to complete, done by those who know the child best in school.

So far 50,000 educators have been trained in trauma care across New York City.

Feliciano added that parents need to take note if their children are having nightmares, if their sleep is affected, if they suffer from loss of appetite, or if they lose interest in doing things they normally love to do.

While kids are resilient they’re also very perceptive, picking up the stress and anxiety around them. Parents need to try and reset boundaries around screen time because the constant screen stimulation can lead to boredom in the classroom in the fall.

The mayor said moving forward as a city starts with our children in the next school year.

“The trauma of the pandemic has been acutely felt by our youngest New Yorkers,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “In New York City, we believe that mental healthcare is a human right, and our students will not navigate this pain and grief alone. Now with our school communities, we will give our kids the emotional support they need to succeed in a safe and supportive environment.”