Mental health needs of FPS students a focus of administrators

1 month ago Fremont Tribune

Editor’s Note: This is the first in several articles being planned by the Fremont Tribune which will examine the efforts Fremont Public Schools are taking to address the mental health needs of all students.

The mental health needs of students at several Fremont Public Schools (FPS) campuses came into focus on Monday, Feb. 13, as numerous school district principals gave their regular updates on school happenings to the district’s board of education.

The principals at Fremont High School, Milliken Park Elementary School and Bell Field Elementary School all provided their regular updates of campus activities, statistics and how they are meeting goals set by the district.

One common theme among the discussions from Myron Sikora, Fremont High School; Chris Raasch of Bell Field; and Susan Farkas of Milliken Park was the mental health needs of children and challenges facing students.

Farkas reported that more than 71% of her students are on free and reduced lunch programs, and 61% of the school’s students are living with both parents. An estimated 23% of students are residing with only one parent, while 13% are in living situations described as “other.”

“Our students are deal with anger, sadness, mental health issues, parents (being) deported, parents (being) incarcerated, parent death, ADHD, family difficulties, trauma and significant behaviors (and) violent outbursts,” Farkas wrote in her report to board leaders.

Sikora reported to district officials that only 43% of high school students reside with two parents; 21% live with a mother only, and almost 6% live with only a father. He also said he and other school staff are increasingly seeing, “students exposed to trauma at home.”

“We have continued to see an increase in the number of students reporting struggles at home, adolescent trauma and under or undiagnosed mental health issues,” Sikora wrote in his report.

Sikora said the high school has utilized outside therapists for counseling for 90 students per week, and FHS school social worker Shayla Linn, “works with students and families to connect them with mental health supports and other outside resources.”

Another new facet of emotional support and mental health care that will begin in spring 2023 at the high school is a program called SSET, or Supporting Students Exposed to Trauma. This program will allow school social workers and guidance counselors to receive training to improve mental health outcomes and care.

Raasch told board members that more than 67% of the students at Bell Field are below the poverty rate and many of the school’s students are in “fluid living arrangements.”

“We have a lot of students running between living situations. We also have a number of custody disputes that erupt each year,” Raasch added.

Raasch also detailed the difficulties mental health challenges present educators.

“There are a number of mental health issues, they are not things I recall experiencing growing up or even really experiencing as a young teacher,” Raasch explained. “We see a lot of anger, ADHD and mood disorders. It is hard to focus on reading, writing and math when (students) come in with the baggage they do each morning.”

Hope Piece, communications director and spokesperson for FPS, said the district’s leaders are continually working on providing all possible mental health care and needs for students, whether that be in-facility counselors or school psychologists or out-of-district contracted mental healthcare providers.











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