Mental health has been recognized as a highlighted focus over the last couple of years. As a school system, we have been working on different aspects of mental health to support students in need. In 2018, the state Legislature provided an allocation to expand what we had in place and increase new ways to allow for student engagement with mental health both in education and prevention.

Presently for mental health education, students receive classroom lessons to introduce and support competencies regarding American School Counselor Association Mindsets and Behaviors for Student Success Standards which work to help students manage emotions and apply interpersonal skills. In addition, Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL) Social Emotional Competencies are integrated and practiced in elementary classroom English Language Arts instruction through Being a Reader, Being a Writer, and/or Making Meaning. Middle school students receive lessons to support substance abuse prevention and safe and healthy relationships. High school HOPE classes have been enhanced by providing supplemental mental health awareness instruction provided by licensed mental health counselors. School-wide prevention programs have been implemented as well to address topics including, but not limited to, substance abuse, suicide, bullying and dating. The District Crisis Response Team will continue to provide training and support to develop school-based crisis response teams for supporting students and staff in the event of disaster or loss.

Kyle Dresback, associate superintendent for Student Support Services

For the 2019/2020 school year, we will be piloting an evidence-based program titled Sources of Strength (SOS) at our high schools. SOS is a best practice youth suicide prevention project designed to harness the power of peer social networks to change unhealthy norms and culture, ultimately preventing suicide, bullying, and substance abuse. The upstream model provided by SOS strengthens multiple sources of support around young individuals so that when times get hard they have strengths to rely on.

School-based counseling is an important part of the school environment and is provided by a school counselor, school social worker or school psychologist. Examples of this are brief solution-focused counseling, Heart Math, and/or group counseling focusing on family issues, anxiety, anger management, and/or social skills. Additional interventions may include prevention groups provided by a district mental health counselor, wellness check-in/check-out procedures, mentor programs, referral to community agencies, student support plans, and/or on-site mental health clinics. The Mobile Crisis Response Team is another resource utilized when a student crisis situation is indicated.

Mental health and well-being support is paramount to our students’ success. We must be diligent in our efforts to ensure the resources and individuals are in place to offer services whether internally or externally. Throughout the SJCSD we are dedicated to the academic and social emotional growth of each and every student. The Student Services Department is here to help and if I, or any member of the team, can be of assistance, please reach out to us at 904-547-7724.