The City of Somerville and the Somerville Public Schools have launched TOGETHER, a public awareness and engagement campaign to promote the mental health and social-emotional wellness of school-aged children, particularly to respond to the stress, anxiety, and other struggles students are facing in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The campaign is designed to build awareness about the services and resources available to children and families and to bring the community together to support young people in need.

The Challenges

Earlier this year, the City commissioned an independent study to assess the health, wellness, and behaviors of middle and high school students in the Somerville Public Schools. The “Pulse Check” study, conducted by JSI Research & Training Institute, surveyed more than 1,400 students in grades 6 through 12, and included a series of questions related to the impact of Covid-19.

Among the findings of the study:

  • While the majority of students did not experience any adverse financial or health-related effects of Covid-19, about one in five middle or high school students in Somerville reported having a family member or close friend who died from the disease
  • Over half of high school students and almost one-quarter of middle school students in Somerville reported that they struggled with their mental health “most of the time” or “always” during the coronavirus pandemic. 
  • Genderqueer students were significantly more likely to report struggling with their mental health (88% at the high school level), and rates also were higher among multiracial students (52% at the high school level).
  • Among high school students, 47% of females reported struggling with their mental health, compared to 15% of males. 

The Strategies

A broad array of personnel, programs, and services are available in our schools and in the community to help meet students’ mental and social-emotional needs, including support from counselors, social workers, case managers, and other clinicians. We also leverage partnerships with the City’s Health and Human Services Department, Riverside Community Health, the Home for Little Wanderers, and other external providers. To help meet the significant increase in demand for services during the pandemic, the City and the Somerville Public Schools have made additional investments in student supports, funded in part by federal Covid-19 relief programs for schools.