mental health

Videos of Fights at Maryland Middle School Raise Concerns About Students' Mental Health

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Three videos of violent fights from inside of Walker Mill Middle School in Capitol Heights, Maryland, have been making their way around the student body this week.

“She said she doesn't feel safe,” said the mother of a student involved in one of the fights. “She's had multiple incidents where she's been bullied.”

It was especially traumatizing as the pandemic had already impacted her children emotionally. She's worries about other kids their age. 

“I feel like a lot of them fell into depression not being able to be around people, so it affected their social skills,” she said. “So, I think it greatly impacted all students.”

“Social media gets in the way of people dealing face-to-face,” said Dr. Ometha Lewis-Jack, a clinical psychologist and interim chair of psychology at Bowie State University.

“Anger is the be all and end all, and that's the easy one to put out there, but underneath it we have the depression, we have the anxiety, we have all the things with kids coming back together after being away that they have not voiced and have not gotten help with,” she said.

In February, Prince George’s County Public Schools Chief Operating Officer Mark Fossett said they've seen an uptick in emotionally charged interaction by some students since the return to in-person learning.

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“The way for us to get out of these situations is to offer students more support, you know, support around mental health, how to resolve the issues that they may have,” he said.

PGCPS has a new program operating at 146 of its 208 schools that includes social-emotional support and at least one licensed mental health clinician on staff. Lewis-Jack said those are positive steps. 

“The school has to start thinking these are our children and let's put things in place so it doesn't get to the next level,” said.

A spokesperson with PGCPS says they have a plan to have full-time contractual therapists in all of their schools by the 2023-24 school year.

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