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Pressure Grows to Get Students Back to School as Mental Health Toll Grows

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Dr. Danielle Roeske, Newport’s Connecticut Executive Director, sat down with CNBC to talk about the importance of the return to in-person schooling to a child’s mental health and social skills development. Below is a transcription of her remarks.

Host: The pandemic and remote learning in the Denver suburbs has taken its toll on the Wessell Girls.

Madeline Wessell: I started getting trapped in my own brain, it’s just like a cycle of doing nothing but screen time and school all day.

Host: Madeline is a high school senior, Andie is a sophomore.

Andie Wessell: What I don’t have is the social connections with the people that I choose to be around, that kind of hit me low. I think that yes, it has affected my mental health.

Lisa Wessell: As a parent it’s horrible, and I only get upset because it’s my kids…

Host: Their mom, a nurse practitioner, finds herself tackling tough conversations.

Andie Wessell: One of my questions always is: “are you feeling like harming yourself?”. That is partly because it is my job to ask that at work. Sometimes the answer to that has been “I don’t know”. Sometimes the answer is “no mom, I am fine. Leave me alone.”

Host: Over 7 months last year the CDC reports 25% – 30% more emergency room trips for children and teenagers for mental health reasons than in 2019.

Dr. Roeske: A big part of support and treatment for these individuals is connecting with others. The importance of reintroducing as much as possible in-person schooling can’t be over emphasized.

Host: For the Wessell family, a recent return to in-person learning and team sports has made a huge difference.

Madeline Wessell: Going back to school gives you back the structure.

Host: Until schools fully reopen, the experts suggest parents work to find opportunities for their kids to socialize safely. They say this is crucial for kids’ mental health.

Article originally published on CNBC