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Here's How Teachers In Dallas ISD Are Planning To Help Students With Mental Health Issues


DISD Principal Ruby Ramirez talks with KERA's Justin Martin about the training they've received to spot and help kids in mental distress.

Due to the pandemic, educators in Texas are preparing this fall for an influx of students with mental health challenges.

Ruby Ramirez is the principal at the School for the Talented and Gifted in Pleasant Grove in DISD. She spoke with KERA's Justin Martin on a few things they plan to do as school kicks off:

1) Look For Signs Of Anxiety

Ramirez says they are definitely prepared to see some anxiety with students that are coming in, especially in the age of COVID-19.

"Overall, I think if there was just one mental health [issue], it really would be just anxiety with the systems that they have to refamiliarize themselves with," she said.

2) Apply Mental Health Training

Teachers at the School for the Talented and Gifted have been trained on how to spot and assist kids who have mental health issues. They went through scenario-based training and learned what's age-appropriate behavior.

"There's different modules that you take on the different types of mental health concerns that come up. It talks about how we interact with students. How do we help create an environment where students feel safe," she said.

Ramirez said educators have to be mindful of certain signs where they have to intervene and reach out to counseling services for support.

3) Focus On Student Agency

The principal said building trust is critical not only for reaching students who need help, but so they can also reach out and help their classmates.

"If my friend is posting something troublesome on social media or makes a statement, or the behavior is changing. They can't get out of a funk for an extended period of time. Those are behaviors that we really need to make sure that we're watchful for," she said.

Ramirez said other signs to watch for are weight changes and suddenly being withdrawn.

Got a tip? Email Justin Martin at You can follow Justin on Twitter @MisterJMart.

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Justin Martin is KERA’s local host of All Things Considered, anchoring afternoon newscasts for KERA 90.1. Justin grew up in Mannheim, Germany, and avidly listened to the Voice of America and National Public Radio whenever stateside. He graduated from the American Broadcasting School, and further polished his skills with radio veteran Kris Anderson of the Mighty 690 fame, a 50,000 watt border-blaster operating out of Tijuana, Mexico. Justin has worked as holiday anchor for the USA Radio Network, serving the U.S. Armed Forces Network. He’s also hosted, produced, and engineered several shows, including the Southern Gospel Jubilee on 660 KSKY.