DENVER (KDVR) — More than a dozen schools in Colorado were placed on lockdown Wednesday due to hoax threats, sparking concern across the community.

Shannon Price-Scanlon, a mental health counselor and employee at Community Medical Services in Aurora, said these situations directly impact students’ mental health.

“I think the best way that we can ensure our kids are as safe as we can make them is to talk with them and really listen to what they have to say,” Price-Scanlon said. “When we aren’t talking to each other, that’s when it gets more scary, because we’re not preparing ourselves to do this as a group. There’s much more safety in numbers.”

She is encouraging parents to act now. 

“There’s never going to be the perfect time to talk to your child. Just talk to them, and you can’t say the wrong thing because you’re talking to them,” Price-Scanlon said. “Your intention is to help them, so even if they shut down, you might not think they’re hearing what we say, but kids always hear what we say. Even when we don’t think they’re listening, they’re listening.”

Open the discussion on school safety

Price-Scanlon said it opens the door for discussion now or later.  

“Sometimes we just feel at such a loss in this society to be able to be vulnerable,” Price-Scanlon said. “It’s seen as a weakness and it’s such a strength to let someone be vulnerable and to be vulnerable in front of someone else.”

She admits it can be difficult to reassure safety.  

“I think always coupling it with these are the things you can do to be safe,” Price-Scanlon said. “When people hear a problem and they hear the solutions that are coming, even if the solutions aren’t 100%, just knowing the solutions that are coming can be comforting.”

Youth mental health resources available

There are also other resources available. 

Price-Scanlon mentioned Alis Behavioral Health, an adolescent-focused provider in Denver, and Urban Peak, a nonprofit organization in Denver that offers a variety of services to youth.  

If you or someone you know is struggling or showing warning signs of depression, reach out to the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988.