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Mental health counseling helps teens at resource center amid social isolation

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    LAS VEGAS (KVVU) — While many middle and high schoolers are going back to school at CCSD on Tuesday, far more parents are choosing to keep their kids home in distance learning.

The Clark County School District said 109,748 students are remaining in full-time distance education, compared to the 31,963 in Cohort A and the 29,516 in Cohort B.

So how do we ensure prolonged social isolation doesn’t worsen kids’ mental health? One resource that is helping many in the valley is the Harbor Juvenile Resource Center.

“Probably from sixth grade it’s been kind of difficult because when you’re entering the teenage mind you’re developing hormones, and you’re going through what a typical teenager goes through,” said Alexandra Rollins, an eighth grader who said she’s benefiting from the Harbor.

The Harbor has four locations across the Las Vegas Valley, and it’s open every day. Staff doesn’t require that you have insurance, and you don’t need an appointment.

Rollins said her mentor, who she sees in her horticulture program each Saturday at the Harbor, has helped with her mental health during the pandemic.

“I’ve been a lot happier since I’ve been there,” she said.

“They were so nice, and [staff] was like, ‘You’re doing everything. You’re doing what you can,’ and stuff like that,” said Brandi Rollins.

While she is heading into hybrid learning on Tuesday, Alexandra said all this time at home has made her feel tired and uninspired.

“When you’re staying in a house for six hours staring at a computer, there’s nothing to see in that,” said Alexandra.

For other children in the Las Vegas Valley, these circumstances may have even resulted in an increase in lashing out, or physical violence.

Among juvenile crimes last year, Las Vegas Metro Police Department said their top call was domestic disturbances.

“By far,” said Sergeant Homan Lam with LVMPD. “They’re stuck at home, and so what happens at home? Ya know, tensions being raised — and so we’re getting a lot of domestic disturbances.”

In addition, specific data from the City of North Las Vegas shows domestic battery was by far the most frequent offense in 2020, with 71 arrests for domestic battery. The second most frequent arrest happened just 26 times (for a false statement to, or obstruction of, a police officer).

More and more commonly, local officers are dropping kids off at the Harbors, rather than taking them to juvie.

“It’s not far-fetched to guess that every day a juvenile is referred to the Harbor, whether it’s for domestic violence, or whether it’s for skipping school, having a fight,” said Sergeant Lam.

And while police say they do commonly use the Harbors as places for kids to get help instead of punishment, kids don’t have to enter the facility in that fashion. The Harbors also accept walk-ins. It’s what Alexandra did, for example.

She now goes every Saturday for group therapy with other kids and teens, and to meet with her mentor on staff, Leland, who she said inspires her.

“He’ll understand. He’s not like judging you off of what you’re feeling,” said Alexandra.

“He’s strict with them. He doesn’t baby them, but he talks to them like he’s their level,” said Brandi.

All four Harbor locations across the Las Vegas Valley are free and don’t require insurance.

“It’s good that it’s free for every family. And that they seem to really care,” said Brandi.

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