Counselors say our new normal during this pandemic is leading more students to seek help for their mental health. In fact, this week the U.S. Department of Justice issued a statement in support of students getting help with their mental health in schools.

As more students struggle, the DOJ is reminding Americans that there are civil rights laws in place to protect students with mental health disabilities.

The Mental Health Association in New York State reports that 1 in 5 teens experience a mental health condition.

Experts say that the rash of school violence across upstate New York is just adding to the crisis. But, a therapist says there are ways the community and parents can work together to make change.

Across the state, school districts are seeing increasingly violent behavior from students. From Niagara Falls to the Hudson Valley, districts have been reporting incidents.

In Poughkeepsie, 16-year-old Quraan Smith was stabbed to death in a fight following a football game in September.

William Pearson, program manager at Genesee Mental Health, part of Rochester Regional Health, connects the behavior to not only the change in mindset following pandemic lockdowns, but also the often divided world we live in.

"Our kids and everybody are in survival mode right now and it's impossible to be able to learn and be able to function when you are on high alert all the time," Pearson said.

Pearson says while returning to in-person learning, school districts should have done more to prepare students to be in social settings again.

"I think we have to become more centered and being more aware of ourselves," he said.

And there are things parents can do to help their students adjust.

"I think parents have to be role models on how to handle this,” he added. “I think we have to be able to our self-check here, 'am I overreacting to something? Am I becoming so adamant with my thoughts?' It's a very difficult situation."

And Pearson says there is something all of us can do to make society a little less divided as the nation works to come out of the pandemic."Start giving praise rather than negativity, start saying thank you, being appreciative of others and not just about us, not about me. I think just giving that praise, being more optimistic, being hopeful, that breathes hope that helps people build up. Rather than thinking negativity, let's start seeing the goodness in people, let's start thinking positive," he said.