After the mass shooting Dec. 14 at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., TISD school nurses asked an East Texas Medical Center Behavioral Center therapist to lead a seminar on how to detect and deal with students’ mental problems.
In the wake of a national tragedy, experts across the nation say learning about mental health is crucial. Some local experts said the state of Texas needs to put more effort into supporting mental health patients.
“In East Texas right now, it takes up to six months or longer to get an appointment with a child psychiatrist. Many psychiatrists do not accept insurance, they’re cash only,” said Brenda McBride, a licensed social worker with ETMC Behavioral Health. She said many kids who need help don’t get it or their problems go unnoticed.
The seminar was designed to give school nurses more resources and “help them understand the needs of children and adolescents with mental health problems,” Ms. McBride said.
Ms. McBride said school personnel should look for children who are aggressive or disconnected.
“Research supports the fact that children that are disconnected from their relationships don’t have empathy and if you don’t have empathy you don’t have remorse for doing these type of devastating events,” she said.
She told those at the seminar it is important that school staff members make personal connections with children.
Lisa Preddy, a mother of two Tyler ISD students, is glad the district is being proactive.
“What happened at Sandy Hook is unfathomable. Had a professional had a chance to intervene before hand, it could have been prevented so I’m very proud that TISD is hopefully preventing anything from ever harming our children,” she said.