Dallas principal Ruby Ramirez knew trouble was brewing when the school counselor came to her office looking grim.

A once gregarious, curious student was disappearing before their eyes, the counselor told her, rarely speaking in class, ignoring his work and classmates, and combing his hair forward over his eyes as if to block out the world.

The bright middle schooler had been struggling with remote learning, and Dallas Independent School District’s School for the Talented and Gifted was able to convince his parents to send him to school in-person, hoping that would reignite his love of learning.

It didn’t.

The counselor also had an ominous message for Ramierez:

“He’s not the only one.”

That’s when Ramirez knew for sure: the second pandemic, the pervasive mental health challenges facing youth around the world, was at her doorstep. If her school didn’t get out ahead of it, they could lose their students. With the looming crisis, Ramierez decided it was time to revisit her Mental Health First Aid training.

“We have work to do,” Ramirez said. Once she saw students’ languishment extending beyond remote learning, enduring into the school building, she knew deeper challenges awaited. “We had gotten to a point where the desire was fading.”

It was time to prepare her staff for the challenges to come.

Mental health professionals and doctors around the globe are warning that after more than a year of stress, isolation, grief, and fear, students will not simply spring back into school. Young people everywhere from the Netherlands to Peru to the United States are reporting more anxiety, depression, and trauma symptoms.

Read the full article about mental health first aid training by Bekah McNeel at The 74.