Madison City Schools hosts mental health fair for students

MADISON CO., Ala. (WAFF) – Madison city school leaders hosted a mental health resource fair Monday to show parents and students how important mental health is.

Lindsey Doolittle, who has two children at MCS, decided to bring them to the statewide fair so they can be more aware of their mental health.

“I think mental health is a really big issue, especially when it comes to her pre-teens learning about herself and emotions,” Doolittle said.

County Mental Health Services Coordinator Stephanie Allen said she has seen a gradual increase over the past decade in mental health concerns among students.

“Coping with the anxiety and just managing the emotions and knowing what to do when you’re experiencing those big feelings as a child or as a teenager or even as an adult,” Allen said.

According to the CDC, nearly 1 in 5 children had a mental, emotional or behavioral disorder before the pandemic.

Doolittle said she knows firsthand about its effects.

“My kids’ mental health hasn’t gotten any worse since the pandemic,” Doolittle said. “I’ve just noticed as they get older that they’re exploring their emotions. I know during the pandemic being at home and being distant they were really isolated from their friends and they got bored with things. It’s really nice to be back there and have some normalcy at school.”

The district now has a facility dog, Barney, to keep students at Midtown Elementary calm while on campus.

Madison Elementary School counselor Stephanie Cook said she’s noticed a difference in students who are able to show empathy and compassion just by Barney’s presence.

“Barney is trained to detect cortisol adrenaline changes in a child,” Cook said. “So if he sees that chemical change, he will tell a child to let an adult know that this child is in distress.”

For more resources the district has to offer students Click here.

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