Supporting Black Students’ Wellness Amid Mounting Challenges image

Supporting Black Students’ Wellness Amid Mounting Challenges

From social isolation to anxiety, children across the nation are struggling with mental health challenges related to the coronavirus pandemic.

But the events of the past few years have taken an especially heavy toll on the well-being of Black students. 

Since the start of the pandemic, Black children have experienced a disproportionate loss of caretakers due to COVID-19 and have witnessed multiple racially traumatic events including police violence against Black people. Dr. Alfiee Breland-Noble, a psychologist, mental health correspondant, and founder of AAKOMA Project, a BIPOC mental health organization, says these traumas are driving significant increases in depression and anxiety among Black youth as well as increases in suicide rates and suicidal ideation.

Supporting the mental health needs of children—particularly Black youth—remains an urgent priority, Breland-Noble said. “You’ve got to meet those needs for our Black children and for all of our children because, let’s be honest, the fourth wave of the pandemic—beyond the variants—is the mental health wave,” she said. “That’s where we are right now. There is so much need, and we’re going to continue to see that need surface. There will be ripple effects for years.”

Indeed, achieving other goals, such as reversing learning loss, will be very difficult without addressing student well-being, she said. “The precursor to positive outcomes for other priorities is our children’s mental health and emotional well-being. How do you learn if you’re depressed? How do you learn if you get anxious?”

To learn more about how educators are prioritizing Black student wellness, One Day spoke with professionals who work in predominantly Black schools about how they’re supporting Black youth mental health as pandemic-related disruptions and racial crises continue. They also discussed how their schools are addressing challenges such as employee mental health and staff shortages, all while centering students’ well-being…

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