Mental Health Wellness

Health and wellness issues can affect learning and performance in profound ways and often provide barriers to student success if not addressed. It requires a multi-faceted approach for the purposes of early intervention, crisis intervention and prevention, treatment, and promotion of positive social and emotional development.

Mental Health LiteracyMental Health Literacy diagram

There are core components of mental health literacy:

  • Knowledge of how to prevent mental disorders;
  • Recognition of when the disorder is developing;
  • Knowledge of help-seeking options and treatments available;
  • Knowledge of effective self-help strategies for milder problems, and;
  • First aid skills to support others who are developing a mental disorder or are in an mental health crisis. (Anthony Jorm, 2011)

Mental Health Instruction in Schools

As of July 1st 2018, mental health education will be mandated. There are nine core curriculum elements:
Core elements in school mental health curricula should include:

  • The concept of wellness (e.g., 8 dimensions of wellness) including self-care and personal responsibility for one’s own mental health and wellness.
  • The concept of mental health as an integral part of health.
  • The recognition of the signs and symptoms of developing mental health problems.
  • Instruction in the awareness and management of mental health crises such as the risk of suicide,self-harm and other mental health crises.
  • The relationship between mental health, substance use and other negative coping behaviors.
  • The negative impact of stigma and cultural attitudes toward mental illness on treatment seeking behavior and as a contributing factor in discrimination against people with mental illnesses.
  • The concept of recovery from mental illness.
  • The implications of risk factors, protective factors and resiliency on wellness, mental health and recovery.
    Instruction in identifying appropriate professionals, services and family/social supports for treating and maintaining recovery from mental illness.

Mental Health Wellness Services

Health and wellness issues can affect learning and performance in profound ways and often provide barriers to student success if not addressed. It requires a multi-faceted approach for the purposes of early intervention, crisis intervention and prevention, treatment, and promotion of positive social and emotional development. 

Psychologists – Webpage

Shen psychologists are highly trained and certified in both psychology and education. They provide counseling and develop interventions for students struggling with social, emotional, and behavioral problems. They assess barriers to learning and determine the best instructional strategies to improve achievement and monitor progress. They evaluate eligibility for special education services and help coordinate community support services. There is a psychologist in every school.

Social workers

Shen has social workers at Arongen and the Middle School complex to work with students with significant emotional and behavioral disorders. Working with the child’s special education team, the primary role is to support students with Individual Education Plans (IEPs) access the curriculum. They provide counseling, social skill training and support the communication between school, home, and community-based services. At High School East, the social worker supports general education students who have emotional issues that impact their functioning in school. The social worker provides crisis counseling, short-term counseling and outside resource recommendations to teach students coping skills to enable them to participate in school.

Transition counselor

Located at High School East, the transition counselor helps soon-to-be graduates with IEPs to obtain services to support mental health, daily living, employment and academics. The counselor has two personal therapy dogs that are used as an additional tool for some students to support individual needs.

R U OK? – Text (518)300-4320

The high school has a text messaging hotline that allows students to anonymously discuss situations in which they are concerned about their own safety or the safety of someone else. The text goes to an operator trained to provide advice and recommendations. The service is monitored from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. When closed, the message still goes through, however an automatic reply is sent with emergency information. While the text is anonymous as far as names, the program would be able to find out key information based on the phone number in cases of emergency.

Counselors – Webpage

With counselors in every school, Shen’s program is focused on academic success for every student. Shen counselors serve as student advocates to help ensure that the doors of opportunity are open for every student upon graduating from Shen. They interact with students as often as possible throughout the school year individually, in groups and in classrooms on things such as course selection, post-secondary plans, anti-bullying, study skills, character education, conflict resolution and much more.

Student Empowerment Services – Webpage

In addition to the support services provided by Shen staff, the district is collaborating with Saratoga Center for the Family to offer mental health services (with parental consent) in the school setting, provided by a master-level, licensed clinician. The cost is covered by the family’s health insurance. No family will be turned away due to their lack of health insurance or their inability to pay, a sliding fee and/or financial assistance is available.

This program allows the center’s therapist, school staff and the family to work together to build success in school. It is more convenient for the student and helps to keep the issues from affecting their school work.

Wellspring –  Webpage

Wellspring (formerly Domestic Violence and Rape Crisis Services of Saratoga County) has worked to provide victim assistance services and enhance our collaborative efforts to identify and prevent domestic and sexual abuse.  Wellspring and the Shenendehowa School District have a longstanding partnership in addressing these issues which affect our students. For three years we have collaborated to implement domestic and sexual violence interventions initiatives to our high school students.  From this highly successful initiative we know that students who live in a toxic environment filled with violence, abuse, and unhealthy relationships struggle academically and socially, all of which can have devastating consequences to their future.  We also know that most times students who are in violent and unhealthy relationships don’t realize this until they have been educated about how unhealthy that relationship is.  Furthermore, we found some students too afraid to speak up, to seek help or even know that there is help for them.  This is especially true with our economically disadvantaged, transient and underserved populations who lack access to services and often have marginal mental health support structures at home.  Tragically with today’s technology, so often students become the target of bullies, victims of domestic abuse, or cyberbullying, sextortion, and sexting all of which adds a further caveat to our work in this area.

 

Mental Health Literacy diagram