‘Mental Health Matters:’ Wisconsin schools offer online resources ahead of unprecedented fall semester

MADISON, Wis.– Our community isn’t just battling a pandemic this summer. We’re facing a national mental health crisis too.

New numbers from the National Center for Health Statistics show that 30% of Americans are experiencing symptoms of anxiety and depression, up from 6% last summer.

Depression is most common, although it can be hard to differentiate between sadness and depression. Persistent, extreme hopelessness and negative thoughts about self-worth — things like, “I’m horrible at this.”; “Why can’t I do this?”; and “I’ll never be able to do anything” — are signs of depression and reasons to ask for help.

There’s no shame in that.

Mental health struggles are highest among moms, minority groups, and young adults, so health experts fear that as students get ready to begin another unprecedented school year, this nationwide problem could get even worse. Schools aren’t just a place to study, but to socialize. This year, millions of students will be stripped of that.

Both the Madison Metropolitan School District and the UW System are offering online resources for students and parents to make getting help easy and anonymous.

For parents, MMSD is offering guides on how to talk to your kids about COVID-19 and resources from the CDC of ways to digitally connect with other families who are facing similar circumstances.

For students, the district has a list of phone numbers to call or text for support, from helplines to the National Suicide Prevention lifeline.

Click here for a full list of MMSD’s mental health resources.

Even though UW-System students will be returning to campus for in-person classes, this week, administrators announced a new online behavioral health tool to help students during the fall semester. The online program called SilverCloud is similar to the Calm or Headspace apps, by offering self-guided programs, meditations, and tools to manage day-to-day stressors. It’s private and free for all students.

Click here to learn more about SilverCloud or download it on your device for free.