Interview with Miguel Cardona Regarding the Mental Health of our Children

African American mom hug comforting sad teenage daughter

Those of us who are in the field of education are realizing the immense amount of toxic stress and related mental health issues that are permeating the lives of our students. We are all extremely concerned about what we are experiencing each day.

Recently Scott Detrow hosted an interview with Education Secretary Miguel Cardona on NPR.  Here is an introduction to this interview and the first few comments made by our Education Secretary.

The Department of Education knows it has a big problem on its hands. Many children in America have been struggling with mental health, and the pandemic has made things much worse.

Education Secretary Miguel Cardona says schools need to make changes now to help students.

MIGUEL CARDONA: Before the pandemic, about 13% to 22% of school-age youth experienced some mental health challenge. Now researchers estimate that that number is up to 80%. Students have experienced a lot – not only isolation away from their peers, but sadly in many cases loss of work for family members or loss of life in their families. So our students are in great need right now.

CARDONA: I was in Kenton, Mich., a couple of weeks ago. I visited a high school that had three different campuses – 6,000 students total – very large high school campus. And each of the students in those high schools had at least one block during the day where the curriculum focused on social-emotional well-being. So this was a change from what they did prior to the pandemic. This is an example of a strategy that’s structural, that impacts all students and is led by what we know works. And quite frankly, it’s led by what we know students need.

Caring mom talk with sad teenage daughter suffering at home

I’ve visited states, and I’ve heard from students directly. And they’re saying, you know, we’re glad to be back. We’re glad to be with our friends. But we’ve experienced a lot, and we need to address that. And those schools and those states and those districts that are doing that are the ones that are going to find the most success. The funding is there. This resource that we provided here at the Department of Education is really to lift up best practices and connect it to what we know works based on research in the field.

Here is another link to this important informative interview.

We have reached a significant level of intense crisis in the mental health of our children who are still struggling to overcome. I am grateful that our Secretary of Education is attuned and aware to what is going on in our schools. I hope you will read or listen to the audio version of this discussion to gain further insight from this interview.

Gerry Vassar


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