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Chalkbeat - Mental Health

Art teachers are a ‘secret weapon’ for restoring students’ mental health, expert says
Allison Shelley / The Verbatim Agency for EDUimages

The pandemic has pushed many young people’s mental health to the breaking point.

The virus, school closures, financial hardships, and social isolation unleashed a cascade of negative emotions in many students — from fear and anxiety to stress and depression. In school districts such as Newark, where students were shut out of classrooms for more than a year, the risk of social-emotional distress was even steeper.

“We know the mental health toll has been enormous,” Gov. Phil Murphy said earlier this year.

New Jersey set aside $30 million in federal relief money to help districts respond to the mental health crisis; districts are getting their own massive infusions of federal aid, some of which they can spend on student mental wellness. Newark, which took steps to address student trauma even before the pandemic, will likely spend some of its $84 million in relief money on mental health services.

So how can schools spend that money to promote student wellness? One smart investment, advocates say, is the arts. 
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