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Student mental health focus of a new initiative in Marathon County

WAOW Television

A community-wide effort is underway to help the growing mental heath crisis amongst youth.

D.C. Everest is among schools are looking to improve their students' mental health, and they're turning to the whole Marathon County community for help.

"Kids can't learn if their brains are in those spaces," said D.C. Everest Superintendent, Casey Nye.

The new initiative is gathering hundreds of community members, students, parents, and teachers to come together to combat the crisis and how schools can help their students in times of need.

"We've got a third of our kids that are reporting depression, almost half are talking about anxiety," said Nye. "There's a feeling of loneliness and disconnect that is different in our community than ever before."

They've created four sub-groups of conversation. Student voice, parent engagement, systems connectivity, and common professional learning to get input from as many people as possible.

"It's really giving our students a voice, giving parents a voice, and giving out community a voice and taking that and doing the next steps," said Gina Lehman, director of student services at D.C. Everest.

The community-wide collaborative is bringing as many people together to talk about the struggles kids and teens are going through and brainstorm ideas so they can live and learn in a healthy environment.

"Getting people involved and knowledgeable about what the conditions are, gives us a chance to reach out to kids sooner and hopefully provide better treatment for them," said Cale Bushman, director of pupil services at the Wausau School District.

The initiative is still in its early stages, but officials said that's good to get as many ideas out as possible and figure out how to best educate parents and their kids on mental health.

"If nothing else other than people having discussions around the table with their kids, we've done something," said Bushman. "We've improved to the fact that mom and dad are talking to their child about what's going on."

For those interested in joining a sub-group, the schools and county are currently working on who and the best way to contact them.

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