Families at home can support healthy ways of improving a student’s mental health.
ROCKFORD (WREX) — After Tuesday’s shooting in the parking lot of Auburn High School, some parents may be faced for the first time with conversations about gun violence with their students.
But Kevin Polky, a licensed clinical social worker, believes those conversations do not have to be difficult.
“They’re struggling with their mental health for a multitude of different reasons,” Polky said.
Parents can preserve their students’ mental health by having practical and calm conversations about their students’ feelings and the facts of a traumatic event.
But an overreaction could disrupt the healing process.
“Sometimes we have a fear and someone can add gasoline to that and make it run more rampant, others can maybe help ground us in what is rational,” he said.
Thinking about the mental health of students does not have to be only a reactive response, Polky said. Parents can improve their children’s outlook on school ahead of time by promoting a healthy outlook on extracurricular activities that will help guide their purpose in life, according to Polky.
Giving purpose to local youth is a familiar message for Jake Rogers, who coordinates Life Decisions, a Rockford mentorship program.
“Where they’re at, where they’re living; the environment, the neighborhoods, the school,” Rogers said, “They just don’t have the supports and the safety nets in place, and those that are there can’t fully meet the need.”
Rogers said if kids are able to receive access to mental health resources earlier in life, it will help keep them from turning to crime.
“All the kids that are out there, every one of them that are out there doing these things and out there shooting each other, they want to see Rockford look different too,” Rogers said.
Rockford Public Schools had a trauma response team with extra counselors on site at Auburn High School on Wednesday.
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