This week the local police inspector gave a short speech to the principal network on what’s happening in the local community. Of course he mentioned the growing youth alcohol and drug problems, cyber bullying and sexting and family and domestic violence but the one that pricked my attention was the growing mental health issues particularly for youth. Not that I am down playing the other serious issues but mental health issues I think at growing at alarming rates. I see our youth (in primary schools) coping with high levels of anxiety and even depression.
The Inspector talked about how his young workforce in the patrol cars are coping with this these issues. The young constables are usually untrained to deal with mental health issues and often take 2-3 hours to resolve – which of course takes them away from patrolling the streets. He was frank in his assessment of when the young constables, who are all armed, can at times unwittingly escalate the situation.
Well I saw some parallel here with our young teaching workforce who graduate and arrive in classrooms with high hopes to teach our youth. They too are confronted with mental health issues in our youth for which they are often unprepared and which also take time to resolve. We do counsel teachers and give them continuously professional development but I wonder does the daily and yearly array of incidents take its toll.
We are looking at connecting 3 or 4 times a year with the Inspector and I’m wondering if there is some mutual learning we can share for after all we share the same community.