EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – El Paso area school districts and resource providers said they are seeing more children battling mental health challenges since the pandemic.

According to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2020, suicide was the second-leading cause of death in children aged 10-14.

Dr. Marcelo Rodriguez-Chevres, the Chief Medical Officer at Emergence Health Network, said they have seen more children battling mental and behavioral health issues.

“Mostly things like depression, anxiety, that which is thoughts, including suicidal plan plans, attempts,” Rodriguez-Chevres said.

As KTSM previously reported, the El Paso Police Department said on Sunday, EPPD officers and the Crisis Intervention Team responded to a call of a 10-year-old girl attempting suicide.

Rodriguez-Chevres said parents and guardians need to look out for warning signs and changes in their children’s behavior.

“Changes that you might seem that don’t quite fit kid that has been sleeping just fine, all the sudden, they don’t want to go to sleep, they’re not sleepy, they’re waking up to the night they’re reporting nightmares, mood changes, irritability,”

Marcelo Rodriguez-Chevres, Emergence Health Network

He said the last few years in the pandemic has caused many children to face more mental health challenges, as well as adults.

“We have a lot more awareness, as a community, in schools, neighbors, you know, not that we’re growing more educated in this regards, and so forth,” Rodriguez-Cheves said. “It might be also that a lot of the elements that we have now in this era, tribute to that including the pandemia, including being locked up, including not being able to nurture a good social environment for those kids that is so critical in their development.”

Ysleta ISD is parterning with Care Solace to connect students, staff and families with providers for therapy and treatment. Meanwhile El Paso ISD said teachers and staff must train to know how to detect at-risk students and intervene.

At EPISD that training includes:

  • Campus Counseling Departments provide a minimum of one faculty training for addressing needs of students, including self-regulation and suicide awareness and prevention. 
  • EPISD developed a mandatory training module in Trauma Informed Care, required by state law. 
  • Each campus has a multidisciplinary threat assessment team to assist in monitoring students exhibiting signs of distress. 
  • The Counseling & Advising Department assists in coordinating and/or disseminating information about additional training opportunities as applicable. 

If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, contact the Emergence Crisis Hotline (Mental Health Crisis) 24/7: 915.779.1800

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