HOT SPRINGS, Ark. – The pandemic has taken a toll on student’s mental health with more kids struggling with anxiety and depression. As school districts look for ways to help, Lakeside School District in Hot Springs is making social and emotional support a top priority.
From the classroom to the cafeteria Mental Health Professional Kalayah Anderson walks the halls of Lakeside Junior High to check on students and offer support.
“We see a lot of anxiety, an increase in depression and kids just really feeling lost a lot of times,” Anderson said.
District Administrator in Special Services Courtney Eubanks said Anderson is one of three mental health professionals hired by the district following a tough couple of years.
“Our mental health is as important as physical health. They see them just like they see their teachers, their counselors at school, their administrators. They are just part of our team,” Eubanks said.
Covering everything from classes to quarantines, Anderson is working to normalize students by talking about the struggles they face day-to-day.
“There’s always this mystique around mental health and so here they’re like this is just as normal as going to the nurse or going to the school counselor or talking to my teachers or my coach,” Anderson said.
She said just having another listening ear on campus makes all the difference.
“Having someone to talk to I think has been really good for them,” Anderson said.
Each mental health professional is assigned to a certain building. That way they can continue building relationships with the same students throughout the years.