Rutherford County Schools are trying to confront a rise in student anxiety. They've organized a seminar Thursday night for parents, and counseling professors from MTSU are offering tips on how to handle anxious kids and navigate professional help.
The event comes in response to a rise in excused absences at Riverdale High School. Assistant principal Maryam Hill says many presented sick notes from their parents with a common theme — mental health.
"My child has anxiety."
"They don't want to be there."
"It's a big school."
"I don't know how to handle it."
"I don't know how to help them."
Riverdale began investigating the attendance problem primarily because even excused absences now count against schools, under the Every Student Succeeds Act.
"We collaborate with other principals around the county, and everyone, we're all singing the same tune," Hill says. "The pressure is on to be the best, and because of that, the students feel the same pressure as well as the parents."
At a town hall with the new director of schools in Rutherford County, parents said they want more clinical help offered on campus. Currently, the district has 20 psychologists for 46,000 students — well below national standards.
But according to the Daily News Journal, superintendent Bill Spurlock said funding for psychologists is the problem.
"We don’t have enough," he said. "We need to add those positions."
Thursday night's event starts at 6:00 at Central Magnet School. All Rutherford County parents are invited.
"I'm hoping this is a tipping point for us to continue the conversation in the future," says Riverdale principle Ryan Nance. "We all want what's best for every child who walks through our doors, and we're not always fully equipped to do that."
Riverdale and MTSU are hosting a mental health event this Thursday, which is open to all RCS families. The event will be held at Central Magnet. See flyer for details. @rgnance32 pic.twitter.com/ri1VXfhw92
— RC Schools (@rucoschools) October 22, 2018