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Palm Beach County School District providing services to help students, families manage mental health

Website consolidates available assistance
Students at School, Mental Health Generic
Posted at 4:41 PM, Sep 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-30 17:39:56-04

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla.  — Students are one of the most at-risk groups for mental health issues.

Now, the COVID-19 pandemic is only making the problem worse.

However, new services from Palm Beach County School District leaders are hoping will help.

From virtual learning to brick-and-mortar learning, this is a stressful time for parents and students.

"Not being able to see her teammates and to see her classmates and collaborate with them on a day to day basis was pretty difficult for her," said mother, Rita Driscoll.

"It's all I've thought about. I couldn't focus on work," said mother, Alissa Matuszko.

But there is help through a new program offered by the school district.

Mary Claire Mucenic
Mary Claire Mucenic with the Palm Beach County School District says the "Caring First" website consolidates a variety of services they offer.

"We want to make sure that they understand how important it is to take care of yourself," said Mary Claire Mucenic, the director of Behavioral Health at the Palm Beach County School District.

Mucenic and June Eassa, the assistant superintendent of student wellness, said even before COVID-19, they were increasing their mental health services.

"From the referendum dollars, as well as the state dollars, to ensure we had one adult on each campus. Last year we were afforded the opportunity to hire a school-based health professional for each campus," said Eassa.

After the COVID-19 pandemic shut down in-person learning, the district created a student helpline.

"[We can] connect with those students and provide additional services for them, we really want them to focus on prevention," Mucenic said.

They have seen an increase in outreach from both students and parents asking about services, according to Mucenic.

She says that's when the "Caring First" website comes into play.

"It kind of consolidates all the different types of services we offer in the district," Mucenic said.

"That we can ensure that each campus, each student, whether they come to the campus or learning virtually, that they feel safe, secure and know there's a team behind them," Eassa said.

Click here if you or child needs support.