Nearly half of US parents say their children have struggled with mental health challenges, and more fell behind in school during the pandemic

Dorothy S. Bass


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Minneapolis teachers on strike rally at the Minnesota state capitol on March 9, 2022.Michael Siluk/UCG/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

  • A National Parents Union poll highlights the pandemic’s toll on K-12 children.

  • Nearly half of parents surveyed said their children have struggled with mental health challenges.

  • More parents — 55 percent — said their children fell behind in school during the last two years.

Nearly half of parents say their children have struggled with mental health challenges during the pandemic while more say their children fell behind academically at some point in the last two years, according to a new poll shared first with Insider.

The National Parents Union survey of 1,000 parents of K-12 public school students highlights the pandemic’s psychological and educational toll on children, many of whom are still dealing with mental health or academic issues, difficulties with social skills, behavioral challenges in school, or bullying. The national online survey was conducted March 18-21 by Echelon Insights.

Of the 48 percent who cited mental health challenges, half said their children aren’t struggling anymore while the other half said they are currently struggling.

“There are 51 million children in American public schools, so when we talk about 24 percent of them struggling with mental health, we’re talking about 12.5 million kids,” Keri Rodrigues, National Parents Union co-founder and president, told Insider. “That’s a lot of kids.”

Rodrigues said she was meeting with officials in the Departments of Education and Health and Human Services to “drive home the point that our top priority as parents since April of 2020 has been mental health support for these kids.”

Of those parents who said their children currently have mental health challenges, half said they would like to have school counselors or psychologists available to help address their child’s challenges.

But school psychologists are in short supply. The National Association of School Psychologists estimates a national ratio of one school psychologist per 1,211 students when a 1:500 ratio is recommended.

“We were crying out for help and support and now we are in reactive mode because that’s how this system works,” Rodrigues said.

About half of parents responded that their children are either currently struggling or that they overcame struggles at some point in the last two years when asked about difficulty with social or interpersonal skills, behavioral challenges in school, or bullying at school or online. In each case, less than a quarter of parents responded that their children’s struggles were current.

Twenty-three percent of parents said their children are currently behind academically while 32 percent said they were at some point but not anymore. Of those currently struggling, 28 percent said their children were “very behind.”

Most parents — 65 percent — said they worry a lot or some about making sure their children stay on track in school. The percentage of those who worry about someone in their family getting Covid-19 is lower, at 56 percent.

The full poll will be released Thursday

Read the original article on Business Insider


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