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Mental Health America of Greater Houston provides resources in times of grief

HOUSTON – Teachers and schools are on the front line helping students deal with grief after a tragedy like the recent deaths of three teens who died while returning home from a spring break trip to Padre Island.

“The immediate need is for everyone to be able to talk about it,” Janet Pozmantier, director for School Behavioral Health, said. “Then in the future the staff and parents be attuned to stress…changes in behavior, changes in the way they eat and sleep, drops in grades, things like that, withdrawals from activities that they previously enjoyed.”

Educators are often the ones who identify students who are not coping well, but depending on the amount of time that’s passed, teachers may not make the connections.

“This might happen a year from now or it could happen a couple weeks from now, but it’s just important, instead of asking a child who might be acting out not, ‘What’s wrong with you?’ but, ‘What happened to you?’” Pozmantier said.

Mental Health America of Greater Houston is opening a $2 million center to help support districts and prepare educators to identify students needing mental health services, especially those with serious emotional disorders.

“Holding back just for a short period of time blew things way out of proportion, and my life became a mess and relationships broke, so seeing that much damage can happen in that amount of time shows the process of what goes on for kids who have these issues for longer periods of time, and it can lead to stuff like death and suicide,” high school student, Colby Hooks, said.

The new center is made up of mental health resources teaming up with a number of local school districts to develop projects and policies that promote the well-being of school-age children.