January 17, 2023 By Ally Donnelly
Kathleen Bambrick, a social worker with Aspire, shared insight into an already-concerning mental health challenge, exacerbated by the pandemic and continued pressures. “Sometimes when we talk about mental health disorders or mental illness, people tend to say or think or are conjured up in their head, ideas of people talking to themselves or being psychotic,” She said. “And while that does happen, with a mental illness, by and large people experience, general depression and anxiety. And we’ve seen those issues rise dramatically in adults and kids in the last 10 years, but definitely over this time period of COVID. In the last two or three years, we’ve really seen numbers skyrocket, and especially in our young people in kids and young adults, college aged kids. We’ve seen a real rise in suicide and anxiety. Our suicide numbers have dramatically increased when we’re a sort of poll when there’s been some national polls of our high school teenagers 12% of our high schoolers have saying that in the last year, they have seriously considered suicide 20 percent of our kids in general are experiencing a mental health disorder.”
Heather Rodriguez, head of counseling for Hingham Public Schools shared more of what’s happening with students and the resources they are being offered. “Schools are a reflection of the community, so we are seeing, and have been seeing before the pandemic and increase in depression and anxiety surfacing in our kids,” she said. “It’s okay not to be okay, as they say, and we’re here to help. We’re here on an individual basis, we have groups of kids who, are experiencing a similar stressor in their lives, so we may do some counseling groups for that. Also, in health class at the High School, the mental health unit is the longest unit that they do. They bring in speakers from Minding your Mind, which is young adults who have experienced mental health challenges coming to speak to our teenagers about their experience and how they got help. They do lessons on that in the Middle School health curriculum as well. We have our Breathe Out program, which is meant to help with depression and suicide prevention through the youth health connection at South Shore Health. In High School, upper class students are trained in the warning signs of depression and suicide, and every freshman gets the presentation from their peers about how to recognize kind of some of the signs because the kids are going to notice what’s happening with their friends a lot quicker than the adults in their lives will most often-not only just to recognize those signs, but how to connect them with a trusted adult to get them help.”
All of the guests shared more on programs available to the community and Bambrick pledged Aspire resources for people struggling. “Our Open Access Initiative is about being able to service people immediately when they call instead of they call and we say, okay, can you wait a few months and as soon as the therapist has an opening, they’ll give you a call. Open Access will give you an appointment right away, in the next 24 to 72 hours with somebody that the role is called the navigator and they’ll have an appointment with that navigator who will basically triage and sort out What kinds of things need to be addressed right now? Do you have any medical concerns? Do you have any financial concerns or living or housing concerns, and mental health concerns and we kind of partner with agencies in our community, and provide and try to reach out and bridge those, those transitions for people and then get them connected right away with a therapist here at aspire to be able to provide some, whether it’s solution focused, brief intervention or ongoing, longer term issues, but be able to bring people in right away. So that’s, that’s something we’re pretty excited about.”
Listen to the entire episode at www.thehinghamcast.com/you-are-not-alone
This Hingham ‘Cast episode brought to you by the Derby Street Shops.