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During National School Counseling Week, one school counselor is looking to do more for students

In the midst of Black History Month, mental health hasn't had a clear stigma in the community. One counselor is using the week to create a safe space for students.

BRYAN, Texas — Life has taken a toll on many Americans in the last 20 months, but even more so for children impacting their mental health.

In the midst of National School Counseling Week, Jane Long counselor Philip Madkins is creating a safe space for their children's thoughts.

"Sometimes it's just talking about the language of what stress and anxiety looks like," said Madkins.

National School Counseling Week is a five-day week that puts a spotlight on school counselors' impacts in school districts. While mental health impacts all children, there isn't a clear or established stigma in regards to it in the African-American community. This is why he is working to create a safe space to change things for black children.

"If I feel sadness for a short period of time, that may be one thing. If I'm experiencing extended sadness or connecting that to trauma in life, it's just having those conversations that open the door, on a regular basis and having that representation," said Madkins.

That includes those of color. 

He credits the Bryan Independent School Districts for giving him the space for representation in the staff to make kids feel safe coming to school and further help them understand the world around them.

"That's something that has to be thought about and making sure that every group can feel like they have a place to go," said Madkins. "In the sense that how they view the counselor role and supporting roles as far as racial counselors to meet the need."

After tragedies like Uvalde, they're focusing on helping kids open up about impactful events and other things that might bother them as they work to improve the mental toll the pandemic has had on children.

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