Steve Wang: 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?
Steve Wang: As a member of the school board, my first priority would be to address the consequences of remote education since March 2020 which include disruption of emotional development and increased social isolation. I fear that without swift and decisive actions, the events of the last year will have a detrimental impact on the students of our district for many years to come. I have read studies from various scholars and subject matter experts on the potential outcomes of the isolation and shudder when I consider the worst case predictions. Then, I turn to my professional life, where I am an administrator for a healthcare organization, and know all too well the correlation between a healthy mental disposition and a healthy physical disposition. Lastly, I look at my own personal life, where I witnessed untreated childhood trauma in an acquaintance lead to mental illness in adulthood. These are all experiences that have made me appreciate how critical mental health is.
Thus, my plan is to continue the district’s initiative of parental education on mental health for at least the next 12 months. In addition, I would support further education for the teachers and administrators throughout the district so that they can identify potential issues immediately and engage the parents and proper experts to assist. Lastly, I would suggest education for the children, at an age appropriate level, to start conversations on mental health. While these actions are in motion, I would push the board to engage the experts in the district on other preemptive actions that must be taken in order to address the forthcoming mental health crisis.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, approximately one in five adults live with a mental illness (as of 2019). Therefore, I take the early indications of this pandemic very seriously and will work to ensure minimal impact for our students to the fullest extent of my powers.
Learn more by reading Steve Wang’s feature in the Daily Herald. 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.