Cumberland County Schools offer 24-hour hotline to students in mental distress amid COVID-19

CUMBERLAND COUNTY, N.C. (WTVD) -- School districts are finding different, innovative ways to provide crucial mental health resources to students during a difficult time.

The Cumberland County Schools Student Services has approached that ongoing need with a hotline and virtual meetings.

Natasha Scott, the executive director of the department, said a part of their job is interacting with roughly 50,000 children county-wide on a weekly basis.

"I think the biggest struggle right now is not knowing, not being able to see kids on a daily bases," Scott said.

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When the pandemic first forced schools to close, Scott said they responded by offering a 24-hour hotline service for students to utilize.

In addition, psychologists and counselors are also scheduling times to speak with students through video chats, giving them some resemblance of a normal interaction.

"For as much as we're going through as adults, don't forget that kids are experiences their own levels of anxieties and struggles," Scott added.

Students of all ages have made calls to counselors and psychologists, sharing the problems they're dealing with at home like cabin fever.

How to keep your kids mentally healthy during COVID-19 pandemic
"Some kids call in and say, 'I just needed to vent, cause this is what's happening at the house' or 'I'm feeling anxious about COVID-19,'" Scott said.

In recent weeks, it's been reduced to Mondays through Fridays during regular business hours.

The district's school services department said parents also need to check up on their children on a regular basis, making sure they're in a good mental or emotional state.

How to talk to your children and support them emotionally during the coronavirus pandemic

"How are they responding to the pandemic? To not being at school, to not seeing their teachers, being out of their normal routine?" Scott said.

Scott told ABC11, depending on the demand, they may consider extending the hotline and virtual meetings into the summer.
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