Mike Shackleton: Barrington 220 Board of Education Mental Health Survey

NAMIBA: Mental health is a simmering crisis for many of our schoolchildren, partly hidden by isolation but increasingly evident in the distress of parents, the worries of counselors and early research.

As a member of the school board how would you address this crisis?

Mike Shackleton, Incumbent

Mike Shackleton: I will continue to address this piece of the crisis head-on, and proactively as part of discussions ongoing wherever possible-

I have been fortunate to have the opportunity to advocate for the students needs for the past four years in my role as a BOE member.

As those who have been watching are aware and will attest, this past year in particular I have been out in front when it comes to the negative impact of the management of this virus on the mental health of the students and their families. District 220 has engaged the assistance of outside expertise regarding managing the mental health side effects of this crisis on families and students including how to obtain professional assistance resources and the building of resilience-Also promoting communication and engagement in efforts to prevent negative side effects of the management of the pandemic on our school population.

Major changes like students not having the normal opportunities to connect with others in person day to day, peers and teachers, not having normal opportunities to be a part of a school teams and activities, the abrupt halt of these activities for what was first a short temporary time that then dragged on over a period of months, a year or more, without the needed attention paid to the impact on the students and their families of the long term major changes, would be irresponsible or worse, in my opinion.

Promoting uncertainty and fear or using incomplete or inaccurate data for decisions at the expense of children is unacceptable. The kids are our future and anyone who believes otherwise or would treat them as less is seriously mistaken.

Barrington 220

Attention needs to be given immediately to the mental, social and emotional and physical health impact the “management” of this public health crisis has had on our children including unhealthy reliance on technology (for learning and for social interaction), the impact of separation/ from in person teaching and learning, the impact of missed seasons and months of what would have been healthy activities, including regular exercise of moving between classes during a normal school day vs sitting in a room in front of a screen-Communication lines need to opened wide between parents and staff and teachers and students so that each student and family has their needs assessed and met as we return to the normalcy that our vaccines and other learned information and acquired heard immunity are allowing for going forward.

Last, those who are at higher risk for Co19 virus should be allowed, as they have been, the choice necessary to remain safe while also allowing for those at low risk (the vast majority) of students to live their lives as normally as possible and avoid unnecessary uncertainty and associated stress.

Thank you for the opportunity to answer this important question.

Learn more by reading Mike Shackleton’s bio on Barrington 220’s website or following him on Instagram. More information about the election can be found on District 220’s website. For more mental health resources, subscribe to NAMI Barrington Area’s newsletter.

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