CPS launches 'Please Stay' campaign to combat mental health issues intensified by COVID pandemic

CHICAGO (WLS) -- It was a teenage crisis before COVID, and educators say the pandemic has only made mental health issues much worse.

"They are manifesting in ways we have never seen before and it's soul crushing to see on a day-to-day basis," said Amundsen High School Principal Anna Pavichevich.

In an effort to help seventh through 12th grade students, Chicago Public Schools is launching a mental health and suicide prevention campaign called Please Stay." CPS is the first school district in the nation to roll it out.

"We designed it to be something principals can take and run with and fit into whatever their school is doing in commemoration of mental health month," said Michael Roy of the CPS "Please Stay" campaign.

Amundsen High School's principal and assistant principal are planning an entire Mental Health Week next week.

"All the students during the course of the day are going to have a class where they are going to do some sort of reflection and think of themselves," said Amundsen Assistant Principal Cybill Ortiz.

It will involve all teachers, staff and students.

"We want to continue normalizing conversations where students can be educated and know the signs," Pavichevich said.

Students will also be shown a CPS video with students doing most of the talking. In addition, students will also take a pledge in which they agree to stay alive and reach out for support if needed.

"This an opportunity to say what resources are in this building and where do I go and what is their name, who is the counselor and social worker," Roy said.

Schools will also help students and their families with connect without outside resources. But principals say more of those are needed and the Chicago Teachers Union has continued to push for more trained adults in schools.
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