PRINCETON, WV (WVNS)– As threats continue to affect schools both locally and nationwide, we wanted to know how this affects students’ mental health. 

According to Education Week, 88 school shootings have happened in the United States since 2018.  They did not report how many threats were made nationwide.  Here in Southern West Virginia, four threats of violence were reported in local schools within the last month.  We spoke with local trauma counselor Twyla Hersman, to see how these threats and statistics affect kids in our schools.  She told 59News, about 14% of all adolescents have a diagnosed mental health issue.

“That’s about 1 in 7,” Hersman said.  “So if a teacher has a classroom with 21 students, chances are that teacher has three students that have mental health problems.”

The most common issue is anxiety, or worrying about the unknown, possible outcomes, and what may happen.

“Concern about one’s wellbeing and the wellbeing of family, friends, people that are cared about,” Hersman added. “When there’s an act of violence or even a threat of violence at school then that means that school isn’t a safe place or as safe as we thought it was.” 

Hersman added there are many factors that could point to what’s causing these anxieties, including COVID isolation, social media, and exposure to different factors at home.  She said while strides have been made  in identifying mental health issues, there’s still more work to be done to prevent future threats and tragedies from happening 

“We have to get better at identifying kids and teens who have mental health issues,” she said. “So identify early, provide good quality treatment, prevent the problem before it becomes a huge problem.”

Hersman added having an open dialogue with older children about mental health and their worries will help with the early identification of problems and create that safe space.