Breaking News
More () »

Classroom Challenges: How Coastal Bend schools are prioritizing students mental health

A Corpus Christi clinical psychologist saw an increase in K through 12 children needing therapy and said what they're facing now is different than ever before.

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — The pandemic was uncharted territory in more ways than one. It affected business, schools, and most of all- it impacted individual people of all ages.

“The stress level landed on everyone of all ages,” said Clinical Psychologist Dr. Kathryn Soward.

At the start of the pandemic, Dr. Kathryn Soward said she began to see more young adults come by, but they were soon followed by an even younger bunch.

“We had a huge increase in K through 12 children coming in and needing therapy,” said Dr. Soward. "The anxiety especially was through the roof- the worries and nervousness.”

RELATED: Classroom Challenges: Overcoming pandemic learning gap

Dr. Soward added that as the pandemic progressed and more people stayed home, depression sank in for many and when school returned, anxiety seemed to take a stronghold.

“It took root, took hold, and cannot let go and so now it seems like my practice has tons of young children and middle-aged children still dealing with a lot of symptoms of anxiety,” said Dr. Soward.

Dr. Soward says the stress and anxiety K through 12 students are dealing with is different from before.

“In the past, they might have been a little worried about going back to school and leaving their parents or having to go to a new teacher,” said Dr. Soward. “Now, we have children actually having full blown panic attacks or refusing to go to school or having night terrors really regressing in their ability to regulate their emotions.”

RELATED: Classroom Challenges: An inside look at security and safety across Coastal Bend school districts

Because of this, Dr. Soward encourages districts to find a way to prioritize mental health.

“It is crucial at this time to get that started right now,” said Dr. Soward.

Districts like Flour Bluff ISD are responding to that urgency

“This is actually our counselor area and so you’re going to see a lot of construction because what we’re doing is we’re turning this into a calming room,” said Executive Director of Communications for Flour Bluff ISD, Kristen Bily.

The goal of the calming room to create a safe space for students.

“If they’re needing to talk to somebody on one side, we’re going to have our military counselor on the other side we’re going to have our LPC counselor right here, and then all along this hallway we’re gonna have the rest of our counselors,” said Bily.

Robstown ISD is also on the same page. The district is even enlisting the help of two licensed social workers to provide extra support

“We put aside some additional funding so that our social workers are on call at any point to be able to reach out to families that need additional support,” said Superintendent Dr. Jose Moreno.

RELATED: Classroom Challenges: How Coastal Bend districts are making sure their students will be safe

St. Pius a school that relies heavily on grants and fundraisers and is also making sure they set aside dollars to provide additional mental health resources on campus.

“We also have a counselor this year we’re really excited about we also have a curriculum and social emotional learning curriculum,” said St. Pius Principal Beth Hinojosa.

Dr. Soward says the steps these districts are taking now are leading by example and hopes more districts take notes.

More from 3News on KIIITV.com:

Before You Leave, Check This Out