With 12 schools shootings so far this year, mental health explains stigma around counseling for kids

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - Tragic events like the school shooting in Parkland, Florida are unfortunately far too common, leaving a mark on so many across the nation. Many in our community are concerned about the safety of our schools.

On Wednesday, March 7, yet another shooting at a school claimed a life in Alabama less than a month after the tragedy in Parkland, Florida that killed 17. Both are the latest in the growing list of school shootings across the nation. The emotional impact of school shootings has sparked conversation over our children's safety in the classroom around the country, including in our area.

It's been nearly 19 years since the 1999 Columbine High School shooting that killed 13, rocking the nation to its core. At that time, it was the deadliest school shooting in U.S. history.

According to CNN, there have been 12 school shootings within the first nine weeks of 2018. The parameters for that number come from a shooting that happened on school grounds, whether it occurred on elementary, middle, high school or college campuses with at least one person was shot. The number includes accidental firing of a gun, but only if someone was shot and it happened on a school campus.

School-based services supervisor at Waccamaw Center for Health and panelist at WMBF's special School Safety Town Hall, Mike Magill, said here in Horry County, there are mental health professionals in schools called Rehabilitative Behavioral Health Services, also known as RBHS. It's a program available to serve the mental health needs of all kids. He said something we need to work on is to get more people to seek treatment. Magill said 20 percent of all kids are said to have mental health problems and only about 50 percent of those get treatment.

Unfortunately, there's always been a little bit of a stigma, if you go to mental health that means that you're crazy and I'm convinced that everybody could benefit from counseling. When I used to do it in schools, they would say well what kinds of kids do you want? And I said all kids, because I think everyone can benefit from it. But there still is a stigma unfortunately with that. But I feel that we are meeting those needs. I think we have to work together and the bottom line for why we don't always have enough is what it always is.. it's money. I don't think enough money is put into the mental health thing. We work a lot on reaction but not preventative things that go on and mental health if we can catch them early and help them deal with stress and problems with their life I think it can help with a lot of things that happen later on.

Mike Magill will be joining school administrators, local law enforcement, and state lawmakers at WMBF News' School Safety Community Town Hall at the Beach Church in Myrtle Beach at 7 p.m. Thursday. Click here for details on how to attend and watch this live community discussion.

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