By Erin Jones

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – In the last year, Dallas ISD has seen firsthand how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the mental health and well being of teachers, staff and students.

In response, next month the district is hosting an event in an attempt to help.

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“I had a hard transition from 11th grade to 12th grade,” said Lincoln High School senior Karen Rosales. “I didn’t know how to use any of the programs on the computer”

From starting the school year at home to then transitioning back to in person classes and navigating through college applications, it was challenging.

“It was pretty hard for me,” she said.

“A lot of adjustments,” senior Kelbie Lewis said. “Everything was different.”

At times, the two seniors felt some stress and anxiety, leaning on their counselors for help.

“They’re always there pushing us, giving us support,” Rosales said.

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“A lot of people don’t like to share their feelings and stuff like that, but it’s really a good,” Lewis said. “Especially for students.”

”These have been difficult times and unprecedented times for our children and families and we want to continue to educate our parents, children and families about the importance of mental health – and that there are tools and resources out there within the community,” DISD Mental Health Services Director of Clinical Services Jennifer Reed said.

In an effort to reach a wider audience, the district’s mental health department is hosting t its first ever Mental Health Matters Symposium on Saturday, May 1.

It’s virtual and anyone can attend.

Various topics such as bullying, coping with COVID-19, depression, stress and substance abuse will be discussed.

Then at the end the mental health professional will take any question.

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“What we want to do is continue to push forward that it is okay to ask for help,” Reed said. “It is okay to reach out for support.”

Erin Jones