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Pandemic ‘accelerated’ focus on mental health at Seattle Public Schools

This year all Seattle public school facilities will have a touchpoint for students and staff to get mental health support.

This story was produced in conjunction with the Mindful Headlines podcast, which explores how our psychology intersects with current events. Listen to Erin Romanuk share on the podcast how Seattle Public Schools is prioritizing mental health. Watch the conversation with Romanuk on YouTube.

Seattle Public Schools is the largest K-12 school system in Washington state with more than 100 schools serving about 50,000 students.

KING 5 News sat down with Erin Romanuk, Seattle Public Schools student support services supervisor, to find out how the district is making mental wellbeing a priority as the pandemic continues.

“We have to be able to acknowledge that mental health and wellness has been impacted over the last 18 months,” said Romanuk, who has spent 20 years in education.

And if there’s one silver lining from the pandemic, it’s that it’s driven more focus on student mental health and wellbeing, which Romanuk said was critical to successful learning.

“Mental health and wellness is something that’s front and center right now,” Romanuk said. “Even five years ago it wasn’t. I think we were moving to that as a district, but the pandemic accelerated us to get here.”

RELATED: Students grapple with new social landscape as in-person learning returns

Romanuk also spoke about new programs Seattle Public Schools is working on.

“When we realized we had 12 schools that did not have access to someone who could provide linkage to mental health support, that was where the focus went to,” said Romanuk.

She says it’s been a critical job for the district’s social emotional learning team. Romanuk says this school year all school facilities have a touchpoint for students and staff to get mental health support.

Resources

Mental health services at Seattle Public Schools

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"Mindful Headlines" is a news podcast about the Pacific Northwest that explores how our psychology intersects with current events.

The way we interact with our world is influenced by the way we perceive the world. In turn, our collective minds shape the issues that make headlines in our local communities and nationwide.