Children’s Mental Health: Fifth and Sixth Graders Lack Self-Esteem and Coping Skills

Many fifth and sixth grade students at Bell Intermediate Academy in Martinsville are struggling with self-esteem and coping skills as they try to navigate through difficulties at home and/or school. They are stressed out and addicted to social media, both of which makes it hard for them to concentrate and do well in their classes.

“Everyone asks me what’s the biggest issue I handle with these students. I would honestly say the root of it stems from their lack of self-esteem. Many of them, unfortunately, hate themselves,” said Niki Walls, a Youth First Social Worker at Bell. “I challenged one student to write four positive things about their self and they really struggled in completing the task.”

Students are also experiencing some type of trauma at home which makes it very difficult for them to cope. The trauma can be defined as Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) of abuse, neglect and family dysfunction. ACEs impact a child’s brain development and hinder their emotional, social and learning capabilities.


  • Almost half (46.2%) of Indiana’s children have experienced one or more ACEs.
  • 41% of children with two or more ACEs are four times more likely to be bullied at school.
  • Kids with two or more ACEs are at a higher risk for developing emotional disorders, behavioral problems, and chronic illnesses.

Children experiencing mental health issues is a real problem in our schools. The Community Foundation of Morgan County (CFMC) has identified real solutions like funding Youth First social workers to be placed in local schools. Partnering with our community through private and corporate philanthropy makes these real solutions possible. Click here to give today and help change lives tomorrow.