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Clinical psychologist speaks about long term mental health impact on kids not in school

'Having a strong support system can make all the difference'
Posted at 9:57 PM, Jul 14, 2020

DELRAY BEACH, Fla. — Wednesday, Palm Beach County School leaders will make their final decision on reopening plans. The district superintendent has recommended that all students start the school year with distance learning. An idea creating a strong reaction from all sides.

Michelle Santos walked along Atlantic Ave. in Delray Beach with a lot on her mind. She's concerned about her daughter not being in school and the toll it's had on her.

"Since the COVID-19 thing happened even though it's been very supportive, the school system, it did greatly affect her mental health as well," she said.

Dr. Rachel Needle, a clinical psychologist, said during times of uncertainty and crisis there can be long term impact on a child's psyche.

"We know that this is absolutely impacting children's mental health, it's impacting them intellectually, it's impacting them socially but different children will respond differently," she said.

Needle said schools may not look the same come fall, it's imperative for kids to have a safe place to express and process their emotions.

"We know that social support and having a strong support system can make all the difference as well," she said.

While the school district looks to make a final decision, Claudia Michel said she wouldn't send her kids back on campus.

"Just pushing them back to going to school to have that interaction when it means possible putting them in harm's way and I don't know if I could live with myself as a parent knowing that I made the decision," Michel said.

With a child with special needs, Remy Torsiello is not ready to send her son back. But she connected with another family so her son could maintain social interaction.

"We were on the same page with not going anywhere and just saw each other so that helped him be Ok," she said.

Dr. Needle said what's most important at the moment is to be creative and flexible for each child's needs.