The state’s health report card shows more than one in 10 children, aged 3 to 17 in North Carolina, had a diagnosis of depression or anxiety in 2020, according to the North Carolina institute of medicine.

What You Need To Know

  • More than in 10 children aged 3 to 17 were diagnosed with depression or anxiety in 2020

  • Teachers are working to find better balance in their classrooms

  • Bridgette Kiser, an 8th grade teacher, believes part of the increase was due to at-home learning

Bridgette Kiser, an 8th grade math teacher at South Asheboro Middle School, said this year is all about balance in her classroom.

“I’m the one who’s going to be in this room every day with these kids, and so it’s a reminder to myself first that I need to stay balanced and focused on what my role is here,” Kiser said.

She added her role is to make sure her students grow and build their skills — so when the time comes, they’re ready to take on high school.

She believes because of learning loss over the last few years, teaching has become more challenging.

“We have seen children develop, I guess you would say, habits that they developed during virtual learning, of just trying to Google the answer instead of trying to really work through and solve the equation,” Kiser said.

Because students are just searching the web for an answer, she says students are missing out on building their problem-solving skills.

“Since students are still catching up from lost instructional time, that means they get very nervous because sometimes they don’t know the math skills, or haven’t had as much practice with math skills that they’re supposed to already know when they come to me,” Kiser said.

She explained seeing this in her classroom, and how she thinks it leads to anxiety issues with her students.

“I think a lot of them in the back of their minds are thinking, but what if this happens again?” Kiser questioned. “‘What if the world changes abruptly again? And what is my future going to look like?’ And they have all these unknowns.”

According to the 2023 report card from the NC institute of medicine, the 2022-23 school year received an ‘F’ grading in the mental health category.

To help better serve her students, she has done something different this year.

Kiser has created a website that will explain what each class will look like, and students can also fill out a form explaining how they are feeling.

“So there are no surprises. And for a lot of students, that gives them a sense of routine and a sense of security in a math class that they know what to expect every day,” she explained.

Kiser is confident her class will give this year’s 8th graders the confidence they need.