HEALTHY MIND MATTERS

Canyons School District offers new mental health screenings for students

Jan 25, 2022, 6:00 PM | Updated: Jan 26, 2022, 9:42 am

SANDY, Utah — Mental health continues to be a big issue for students during the pandemic.

Nationally, grades and academic scores have suffered.

Part of the problem is identifying students who might have some challenges with mental health, even if the student doesn’t know it themselves.

“They’re experiencing a lot of things that they’ve never had to face before,” Chanci Loran said.

Loran works for the Canyons School District as the Student Services Department program administrator.

That department oversees school psychologists and social workers.

In her 20 years as an educator, Loran says she has never seen mental health for students as challenging as it is now.

“We’re finding probably the greatest need that we have seen, at least during my career,” she said.

COVID, social distancing, virtual classes and many other factors during the pandemic have all made learning more difficult for many students.

Throw in maybe not being able to see their friends because of remote learning, or perhaps a parent who lost their job during the pandemic, and you can understand why mental health is something that keeps Loran up at night.

“Oftentimes, children don’t share with us what’s going on. So maybe they’re masking what’s happening, so we’re not able to support them the way they need,” Loran said.

Canyons Schools have programs to help students, but lately, the district has been taking it a step further. The district has been holding student screenings at night, where parents bring their kids to a school so they can be screened by specialists.

“The screening tool goes through a quick round of questions that takes about 15 to 20 minutes,” Loran said.

Specialists are looking for signs of anxiety, depression, self-harm or feeling left out.

If something pops up, the parents are informed, and then a plan is made to meet further with a counselor.

“We want to make sure we’re setting the road for success and giving kids access to what they need as soon as we know that they need it,” Loran said.

The idea is to help students now before something might become an even bigger problem later.

The screenings for this Thursday are already full, but Canyons has two more screenings planned for its students next month.

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Canyons School District offers new mental health screenings for students