Tuscaloosa County Schools hires more social workers due to anxiety and suicidal thoughts related to pandemic

Helping students with mental health impacts of pandemic

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Tuscaloosa County Schools noticed a change in some students when classes resumed in the Fall during the pandemic. One Tuscaloosa County social worker told WBRC more kids showed problems that were expressed as anxiety. Even worse in some cases, students expressed suicidal thoughts.

Angela Kelly, the mental health services coordinator for Tuscaloosa County Schools, said they saw an increase in suicide protocols across the district. That’s when someone says a student expressed in words or written statements that they wanted to die. In September, the school board asked the Tuscaloosa County Commission for money to hire more social workers to help address some of these concerns. Five more social workers have been hired. That brought the number of social workers working for the school system to fourteen.

Kelly said they are always working to help children who may be dealing with issues at home or school. But they became more concerned when some of their youngest students triggered suicide protocols in the school system. “A high number of those were elementary school kids. And most people don’t think, your 5 to 9 year-olds are typically your happy go lucky kiddos and that’s where we saw significant numbers,” Kelly explained.

The Tuscaloosa County School system would like to hire 11 more social workers according to Kelly. People there are looking for more funding to do so.

Currently, Tuscaloosa County Schools contracts all but three social workers through Tuscaloosa One Place.

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