FARMINGTON — Regional School Unit 9 Superintendent Christian Elkington continued his discussion of the ongoing mental health crisis in his Superintendent’s reports on Wednesday, March 15, sharing another article on the matter.

The article, titled “Educators say they lack resources to address worsening mental health crisis”, was published on K-12DIVE by Naaz Modan and provided further insight on the worsening mental health among American teens.

“It’s a concern we all have,” Elkington stated to the board, “We hear it every day from students, from staff, and from our families.”

The article presented survey data suggesting that, while there is an awareness of this crisis, many schools do not have staffing necessary to combat the issue.

“While a large majority of superintendents [81%] agree student behavioral concerns have deepened since the pandemic and an even greater portion [92%] indicate the student mental health crisis is worse than in 2019, most [79%] also say they don’t have the staff to focus on the problem,” Modan wrote in the article.

Nearly 200 superintendents across 37 states were surveyed to produce this information, with 67% stating that budget concerns were one of the barriers.


It also stated in the article that over 1,100 teachers, administrators, and student support staff were surveyed in a separate study that showed 84% believed students are developmentally behind in self-regulation and relationship building compared to pre-pandemic levels and that incidents of physical violence have more than doubled since COVID-19.

In his report, Elkington referenced the segment, adding that staff is spending even more time supporting their students and families in these areas. With this area of concern, they also see many of their families needing extra guidance and support from them as there are either not enough family resources available to them in Franklin County or they are not able to take advantage of them.

Of that same group of teachers and staff surveyed, 60% said pressure to boost academic outcomes leaves them with little time to address the situation.

Elkington also shared information regarding the increase in violence mentioned in the survey, boasting the efforts of staff to prevent this increase in the RSU 9 district.

“Because of the resources that our district has committed to in our schools such as guidance, social worker, and nurse support,” Elkington stated, “Grades PreK through 12 and our PALs program in grades K-2/3, along with the very hard work and determination of classroom teachers, support staff, and administrators, we are not seeing this kind of increase.”

Elkington shared information on the mental health of students regarding bullying at the previous RSU 9 board of director’s meeting on Monday, March 6.


“We have to figure this out because it interferes with student learning and interferes with student attendance and interferes with student interactions, and we don’t have a good answer yet,” he stated at the March 6 meeting.

Director Charles Hinds of New Vineyard offered his input on the matter.

“One of the reasons this stuff is happening because of we’ve gotten away from a solid moral foundation,” Hinds stated. “We were confused when we were in school about a lot of things, so when there’s all this other stuff, I don’t want name it but it’s more than just one thing. It’s when there’s three or four different things that are being pushed on the kids and they have no foundation that’s solid then obviously you’re going to be presented with stuff.”

“I don’t think anything is going to be done about it, but it’d be nice if it is,” he added.

Elkington concluded his report stating, “Every day we need to thank our “lucky stars” for the commitment of our people in these areas.”

“Unfortunately, I, like many others,” he continued, “are worried that our people are getting worn out and that these extra efforts are not sustainable. At this time, I/We don’t have a good answer for what will happen next.”

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