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Mental health professional talks about school threats and anxiety in students

Counselor shares what you can do to help
anxiety, teen, stress, kid, depressed, mental health, teens, kids
Posted at 2:06 PM, Aug 28, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-28 18:27:28-04

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — Schools haven't been back in session long, but rumors of threats have already spread. LEX 18's Claire Crouch spoke with a mental health professional to get some insight into how school threats are affecting the mental health of your child, and what you can do to help.

Janet Vessels of Lexington's Integrative Counseling Center said that over the past 10 years, her office has seen kids' anxiety regarding school-related events increase a lot.

"Sometimes, it is about potential for threats and sometimes, it is about their own fear about leaving home," Vessels said.

She said that active shooter drills and talking about these issues are a necessary evil, but that you can walk a fine line when exposing a child to this information.

"I’ve seen it cause a child more anxiety because there's a fear of what if this would happen, and I’ve seen it desensitize them to violence," said Vessels.

She said that how parents react plays a huge role in how their children react.

"I always say anxiety is contagious. You can get it from or give it to you child depending on how you react to anxiety yourself," she said.

Vessels' advice to parents is to pay attention to social media and be conspicuous about what threats are credible. You can remind children that a shooting likely will not happen, but if it does, there are adults there to protect them.

"It's not happening now it probably won't happen and you can be ready so it's that balance," she said.

If you believe your child is developing a true mental health issue, Vessels suggest contacting a professional, or the child's school counselor.