Loading...
Loading...
Click here if you don’t see subscription options
Students greet Bo, the therapy dog, Jan. 10 at St. James/Seton School in Omaha. As a therapy dog, he brings joy and stress relief to students every Wednesday. (CNS photo/Mike May, Catholic Voice)

OMAHA, Neb. (CNS) -- Catholic schools in the Omaha Archdiocese are taking seriously the problems of student anxiety, depression and other mental health issues.

One effort to help is a pilot program providing counseling to students at six Omaha-area Catholic schools.

Through a partnership with archdiocesan schools, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Omaha is supplying a licensed mental health therapist to provide direct therapy services at each school one half-day per week, said Theresa Swoboda, clinical nurse manager and coordinator of the program.

"Our intent was to begin this for the second semester, but there was so much need expressed by the schools, that we began in October. Anxiety is the number one problem," Swoboda told the Catholic Voice, Omaha's archdiocesan newspaper.

In addition to the demands of school, students may struggle with family problems or divorce, and the impact of increased social media activity.

"Since 2008, the youth suicide rate has continued to increase, correlating pretty closely with the increasing availability of smartphones and social media," she said.

An on-site therapist eliminates barriers to access and makes available the specialized counseling that school counselors are unable to provide.

"Research shows that students' mental health, social and emotional balance, and academic performance improve if you can go to the kids in their own environment," Swoboda said. "And students don't have to leave school to see a therapist."

Catholic Charities also has now begun an outreach to rural schools through a tele-health option with online resources, she said.

Swoboda said Catholic Charities hopes to obtain funding to expand the program, making it available to any Catholic school in the archdiocese that requests it.

Schools involved in the pilot program are St. Mary in Bellevue, and Ss. Peter and Paul, St. Vincent de Paul, Mary Our Queen, Roncalli Catholic High School and Duchesne Academy of the Sacred Heart, all in Omaha.

In addition to the counseling services, Duchesne Academy makes mental and physical health information part of the curriculum through healthy living classes, said Laura Hickman, principal.

"We want to provide (students with) deeper education on what a healthy lifestyle looks like, signs of depression in themselves and their peers and ways to deal with anxiety," she said.

The school also created a Facebook page to inform parents about youth mental health issues and foster an exchange of information.

Duchesne also helps students find time for quiet reflection through prayer services and guided meditation during classes, and is considering small-group sessions with adult moderators, Hickman said.

"For students to learn, their basic needs have to be met, but when we have students dealing with debilitating anxiety, depression or other emotions they don't know how to express, learning becomes difficult," she said.

"Everything we can do as a school to help students feel healthy and in control of their emotions makes a difference."

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
Justin Cook
4 years 3 months ago

Great to know you work. In many of the rural areas, childrens are suffering from different health problems due to lack of facilities. Thus a part of humanitarian aid shammesh from mission humanitaire Afrique arrange the health check-up programs. One can discover this http://www.mission-humanitaire-afrique.org to know more about different humanitarian programs and take part as a volunteer.

The latest from america

A Mexican soldier patrols outside the Church in Cerocahui, Mexico, Wednesday, June 22, 2022. (AP Photo/Christian Chavez)
The bishops’ statement followed the slayings of two Jesuits and a person they were protecting in their parish—a crime attributed to a local crime boss in a part of the country dominated by drug cartels.
President Truman's envoy to the Vatican, Myron C. Taylor, left, has an audience with Pope Pius XII at Castelgandolfo near Rome, on Aug. 26, 1947. (AP Photo/Luigi Felici, File)
The documentation, published amid renewed debate about the legacy of the World War II-era pope, contains 2,700 files of requests for Vatican help from Jewish groups and families.
A school bus in front of a building; the building has a yellow banner on it that says “imagine a future free of gun violence.”
One month after Uvalde, we are growing numb to gun violence. Even so, we must resolve to comfort the mourners, to beat guns into plowshares, and to say “never again” and mean it.
Britt LubyJune 24, 2022
A man bows his head in prayer before a computer screen showing nine people doing the same
As pandemic restrictions have eased, most parishioners have returned to in-person Masses. But some would prefer the option for virtual services to remain.
Keara HanlonJune 24, 2022