Frisco ISD officials said students have opportunities to learn healthy coping methods and resources to turn to as data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports youth mental health has continued to decline.

The overview

At FISD schools, the overall number of students experiencing depression and anxiety has gone down, said Stephanie Cook, FISD’s managing director of guidance and counseling.

“Our hospitalization numbers, though, have doubled because for those that are experiencing that, it's more acute than it was before the pandemic,” Cook said.

Students’ mental health is tracked through anonymous surveys sent out to the entire district, Cook said. While only a few grades take it, the completion rate is typically 95% or higher, Cook said.

“Within that survey, they have taken all the diagnostic criteria for depression and all the diagnostic criteria for anxiety,” Cook said. “Then it asks questions about each one of those diagnostic criteria, and then it's spread throughout the survey.”

The backstory

The anonymous users whose survey answers reflect they could be experiencing depression or anxiety are then highlighted so district staff can see which specific grade levels or campuses have higher rates, Cook said.

Those areas with higher rates of students experiencing depression or anxiety can then be included in lessons that address how students can cope with any overwhelming feelings, Cook said.

“We've created an infrastructure, but that infrastructure is also highly responsive to campus trends and needs,” Cook said. “While we are similar across Frisco, we're very unique on some of our campuses.”

By the numbers

While Texas was ranked 36th in the nation for suicide mortality rates in 2020, the state has experienced an increase in suicide mortality in the years since 2000, according to a study released by the Texas Health and Human Services Commission.

The increases from 2000-20 included a rise in suicides for children ages 10-14 and 15-19, according to the study.
  • The increase for youth ages15-19 was 39.1% with rates rising from 9.2 deaths to 12.8 deaths per 100,000 people.
  • The rate for children ages 10-14, while extremely low, experienced an increase of 35%, rising from 2 deaths to 2.7 deaths per 100,000 people.

“Where there maybe had been suicidal ideation [before the pandemic], now there are attempts,” Cook said.

The details

The resources offered to help students with their mental health have come a long way in recent years, Cook said. For example, students can scan a QR code and be immediately signed up for an appointment with the school counselor, or immediately report suspicious or threatening behavior on social media through an app, Cook said.

“Even though it's about school safety, it is about wellness and mental health,” Cook said.

The district also partners with entities such as Frisco Threads that help students get clothing or gift cards they may not have been able to get on their own, FISD Assistant Director of Communications Korinna Kirchhoff said.

“We're thankful for the community members, the community businesses, the community that's willing to support our students and our teachers and our campuses,” Kirchhoff said.

Mayor Jeff Cheney proclaimed May to be Frisco’s official Mental Health Awareness Month at a May 16 City Council meeting, stressing the importance of community when it comes to mental health.

“Each citizen and local business, school, government agent, health care provider and faith-based organization shares the burden of mental health concerns and has a responsibility to promote mental wellness recovery and support prevention efforts,” Cheney said at the meeting.

More information about FISD’s guidance and counseling services can be found here.