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Psychologist believes students need more resources for mental health

After the shooting at East High School in Denver last week, community leaders offer suggestions to keep kids safe – including an increase in mental health support.

DENVER — Families and students are looking for solutions after another shooting last week involving East High School. As communities search for ideas to make kids safer, a psychologist hopes we keep mental health resources in mind.

"We definitely need there to be more mental health professionals assigned to schools both middle school and high school, maybe as early as elementary," said Dr. Anthony P Young, the president of Denver Rocky-Mountain Association of Black Psychologists

Young understands there isn't one answer to solving gun violence, but he hoped leaders would focus on mental health during these conversations.

"That is the ideal place to address the mental wellness issues including teaching kids how to address anger issues and depression issues and feeling of isolation and loneliness," he said.

As some suggest how to physically keep kids safe, like adding police officers, Young wants schools to protect the kids' mental health too. 

"If we are not addressing this issue in the schools, we know by and large these issues are not being addressed in the homes," said Young.

Over a decades-long career in Colorado, he's talked to kids about why they have a gun. 

"When children, particularly male youth feel intimidated, that their lives are in danger, their first impulse has been to well – you have to protect yourself," he said. 

He believes every child could benefit from social-emotional learning by teaching them how to handle their anger and their emotional issues more effectively. 

Young doesn't think mental health professionals should be at a school just for a moment after a tragedy. Having that help on campus always makes sense to him, especially at a place where kids spend most of their time. 

"Children are being traumatized every time a shooting occurs," he said. "The trauma remains."

According to Denver Public Schools' website, all district-run schools have a mental health provider. A District Crisis Recovery Team also helps campuses with significant crises that affect the school community and overwhelm the capacity of the mental health teams on campus.



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