Opinion

A bridge to hope

Lynn Public Schools’ Bridge for Resilient Youth in Transition (BRYT) program represents a great stride forward in addressing student mental health. 

Launched this year at Classical High and paid for with a $200,000 state grant, BRYT is focused on helping students who transition back into school after long absences while hospitalized for mental-health care.

There are so many reasons why this program makes sense and why it represents a strong, long-term investment in the health of Lynn’s youth. 

BYRT Director Paul Hyry-Dermith cited nationwide statistics indicating that student mental-health hospitalizations increased by nearly 300 percent over the last 20 years. 

These numbers are startling and they underscore the need for an iron-clad connection between schools and mental-health professionals. To her credit, Swampscott School Superintendent Pamela Angelakis introduced in 2016-2017 programs devoted to back-to-school transition and supporting Swampscott students with emotional disabilities.

BYRT is intended to ensure that students who must take time away from school to focus on their health get the best opportunity to return to school. Classical students participating in BYRT will spend four to 12 weeks in a special classroom setting where they will receive the support they need to ease back into school life.

Successfully returning to school after a prolonged absence sets the stage for students to regain a sense of academic and extracurricular achievement and re-enter an educational community where peers and adult mentors offer support. 

Mental-health care fails tragically when patients cannot find stability or continuity in their lives and end up abandoning counseling or medication regimens and sliding back into isolation.

BYRT represents a sustained and committed effort by Lynn Public Schools to give students transitioning from hospitalization to school the best chance at grasping and holding onto all the fun aspects of high school life every teenager should have an opportunity to enjoy. 

BYRT and the Lynn schools deserve credit for pitching in and pulling mental illness out of the dark corner it unjustly occupied for so long. 

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