A physical injury such as a bruise or cut is generally easy to identify as it is often in plain view.
But mental pain is not as easy to distinguish. Those suffering from it tend to show no outward appearances. Bandages and casts neither ease nor reveal their suffering.
Nonetheless, mental anguish surely exists in great measure, even though our society once largely disregarded its existence.
In modern times, advancements have been made, and techniques have been developed to detect the subtle signs that indicate someone’s mental health is under threat.
This progress is particularly important now, as a once-in-a-century pandemic has placed added stress on all of us. Local school districts have recognized the situation and have taken steps to address it, not only for their students, but also the teachers who educate them and the parents who raise them.
In a front page story in the most recent Weekend Edition of the Daily Journal, reporter Stephanie Markham detailed what Bradley-Bourbonnais Community High School, Bradley Elementary District 61 and Kankakee School District 111 have done to help identify and treat those who are suffering.
At BBCHS, the school board recently approved a partnership with Ohio-based Terrace Metrics to provide a mental health screening service available to students and staff members. The inclusion of staff members is crucial because BBCHS officials realize teachers must be able to help themselves in order to help others.
In the Bradley Elementary district, CARES Act funds are being used to partner with Bourbonnais counseling group Collective Balance. Counseling is offered in one form or another to children, teachers, parents and groups.
In the Kankakee school district, a program called Gaggle is used. It analyzes student communications on school provided Gmail and Google Drive accounts for keywords that might indicate if the student is experiencing trouble. The district also recently partnered with Riverside Healthcare to host a virtual health fair to provide additional help.
All are worthy initiatives, and other school districts have established similar programs.
While we all want this pandemic to go away, it has introduced some things that can bring benefits after it has subsided. Increased mental health services is one example.