By Walter GeigerDr. Jessica Traylor, staff psychologist for the Lamar County school system, is scheduled to meet with the Lamar County commission Thursday, June 14 to share some alarming statistics on community mental health.The presentation has previously been given to the Family Connection Collaborative and the Rotary Club.The stats resulted from a student health survey completed by 1011 LC students in grades 6-12. The results tracked along similar lines as in the past but the local students were near the top of the rankings in many worrisome categories as compared to surrounding counties.The other counties in the comparison are Butts, Fayette, Henry, Newton, Pike, Spalding and Upson.On the local respondents, 29 % reported experiencing anxiety or panic in the last 30 days, tying students in Henry and Newton counties atop the graph.Eleven percent of the LC students reported practicing unhealthy methods to lose weight to improve body image, about average for the area counties and the state. Another 24% reported intense worries or fear that impacted their daily activities, highest among the area counties and three percent higher than the state average.Lamar had the highest percentage (18%) of kids reporting they had extreme difficulty concentrating or staying still that put them in physical danger or caused failure at school. The state average is 15%. Another 24% reported considering dropping out of school. That was second highest among the area counties and higher than the state average of 20%.Of particular worry were the responses to three questions regarding suicidal behavior. Lamar had higher rates on all three among the surrounding counties and the state average. Seventeen percent reported considering harming themselves in the past 12 months while 11% said they had harmed themselves over that period. Another 11% said they had seriously considered suicide during the past year.Five percent reported actual suicide attempts over the past 12 months, tying LC with Butts and Spalding counties. The state average is 4%.Dr. Traylor also garnered some disturbing responses from Lamar teachers – all of whom responded. Nearly 80% of teachers reported worry while just under 70% reported nervousness in the workplace. Nearly 60% said they were restless while over 50% were distracted. Over 30% were scared or feared someone and experienced physical symptoms. Some 22% were very angry and 20% were unhappy with their situations.A full 10% reported they had been picked on or bullied in school or their classrooms.Thursday is a full day of workshops for the commission with budget sessions scheduled for 9 a.m. – noon and 2 p.m. – 4 p.m. Dr. Traylor will speak at the regular workshop set for noon-2 p.m. All sessions are open to the public.All these workshops are in preparation for the regular commission meeting which has been pushed back from June 19 to June 21. That session will be held at 7 p.m. at the courthouse.Dr. Traylor is the wife of commissioner Ryran Traylor.
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