Add To Favorites
Times-Union, I'm A Star Foundation host discussion about kids, COVID 19 and mental health
Florida Times-Union - 7/30/2021
Children are resilient, but they're also vulnerable. The pandemic is taking a mental health toll on youth of all ages.
Thursday, students from I'm A Star Foundation asked questions of mental health advisers about how to cope with youth mental health challenges that stemmed from the pandemic.
The 90-minute virtual event is hosted by The Times-Union and the foundation, a nonprofit leadership program for students ages 12 to 18. The discussion was shared on YouTube, both organization's Facebook accounts and on Jacksonville.com.
More: Food access and mental health are a struggle for many in Jacksonville. The Urban Health Alliance is stepping in.
More: Wolfson Children's Hospital has free help for parents worried about children's mental health
Classes start again in August in Florida, and a growing number of students report experiencing persistent sadness, hopelessness, isolation, suicide and other mental health issues. Unexpected deaths of family members from COVID-19, isolation from friends and loss of daily structure and support systems are all contributing factors to youth mental health challenges.
"I love that professionals from all different backgrounds and the students of today can come together and talk about what we can do to become a stronger community and give students the resources they need in order for their mental health to be the best that it can be," said Jordan Bell, a 14-year-old student at Samuel W. Wolfson School for Advanced Studies and Leadership.
"I feel that this is a very rare occasion in today's society because we sweep mental health under the rug. So to see our community come together is really heartwarming," Bell said.
The session was the fourth live-streamed event in partnership with The Florida Times-Union. Other events have centered around COVID-19 and high-achieving women providing advice and answering questions from students.
More: Medical experts, skeptical teens in Jacksonville talk candidly over COVID-19 vaccinations
More: 'Go for it': Women leaders advise Jacksonville girls on careers, life as female VP is inaugurated
More: Slow rollout prompts questions regarding COVID-19 vaccine equity in Jacksonville
Betty Burney, founder and executive director of I'm A Star Foundation Inc., said the physical impact of the pandemic is evident because we regularly see the death toll and hospitalizations. What is not readily apparent is the impact that the pandemic has had on the mental health of students.
"I'm A Star's student leaders recognized the impact, and since December 2020 they have conducted research, created surveys, and conducted focus groups to ensure that they and their peers' issues are addressed," Burney said. "The community conversation is a much-needed platform to allow students' voices to be heard, and parents' questions to be addressed by a panel of experts."
Among the goals of offering a live stream is to serve as a vital opportunity for students and parents to share comments and concerns.
"Our goal is to provide information, share resources, and offer encouragement so our students can begin the new school year embracing their resiliency," Burney said.
©2021 www.jacksonville.com. Visit jacksonville.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.