Orange County

Orange County schools look to expand mental health resources for students

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — School leaders in Orange County are set to talk Tuesday about a growing problem in the classrooms.

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Since the pandemic and at-home learning, more children have been struggling with mental health issues.

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The school district said it will present its plan to expand mental health resources at a meeting later Tuesday.

A major component is boosting the number of people in the district who can provide those key services to students.

Psychiatrist and doctor Sighed Quadri has seen firsthand the huge toll the COVID-19 pandemic has taken on children.

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“Things have only gotten worse, it hasn’t gotten better,” Quadri said. “In the last two years, the number of people gone into mental crisis is three times more than pre-COVID.”

Quadri said the mental health needs of students is a crisis, and it’s something Orange County Public Schools said it’s working to address.

“Some students may exhibit warning signs of needing additional support and for school safety reasons, it’s important that we have structures in place to give them support when needed,” said OCPS director for mental health service, Kimberly Beckler.

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By the end of the school year, OCPS plans on more than doubling the number of social workers in the district from 119 to 254, as well as hiring more mental health counselors and psychologists.

School leaders also said 80% of all school staff will be trained by July on how to detect when a student is struggling with their mental health.

Watch more in the video above.

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