HARRIS COUNTY, Ga. (WRBL)— When dealing with a mental health crisis, asking for help may be the hardest part, but it’s crucial to getting access to the resources needed. The Harris County School District started that conversation between parents and their students.

Harris County School District administrator for the EOC/STEPS program, Arienne Stecher, says in her 17 years as an administrator, she has seen a rise in mental health concerns rise amongst students inside and outside of the classroom. 

“Some of the concerns we’re seeing is just uncertainty. There’s a lot of anxiety, a lot of nervousness. There’s just not a lot of direction for our students,” Stecher told WRBL. “We’re just seeing a lot of different mental health concerns in our students. And we wanted to have an event that came together to bridge that gap and those conversations between parents and students.

Motivational speaker and award-winning author, Yvonne Williams, started that conversation at an open forum. With two sons who graduated from Harris County High School, she joined her peers encouraging them to reach out to their kids.

“Communication is key. Absolutely. Don’t jeopardize, don’t cut off the communication with you and your child,” Williams said. “No matter how upset you are, no matter what goes on in the house, make sure you are continually communicating with them and good, healthy coping mechanisms.”

She advised parents to be in tune with their children’s online habits, continue to check in with them, and be a strong advocate. On top of it all, trust.  

“I know that it’s hard for parents because we take our children’s failures personally, we take their success personally. I just want them to understand that no matter what everything that we put in them, all of that good stuff that we put in them, we just have to believe that when they leave our house, they’re going to remember everything that we have invested in them,” Williams advised.

Students also have access to several resources within the Harris County School District, all they have to do is reach out. In addition to the counseling services offered by their schools, students at Creekside and up have access to the Family Counseling Center (FCC) of Columbus.

“We have counselors that come in from the FCC biweekly weekly that talk about different social emotional topics from all the way from anxiety to depression sometimes,” Stecher said. “And the older kids we’re talking about dating, violence, healthy boundaries, how to create good friendships. Substance abuse and just an array of issues.”

Students in the Harris County School District who are experiencing mental health concerns are asked to reach out to their counselors, teachers, and support staff.