Mental Health Moves to Forefront of School Safety Concerns
A program known as the Center for the Self in Schools has developed a Mental Health for All Toolkit for teachers, counselors, students and parents.
Mental health moved to the forefront of school safety after the Florida shootings. Now Dr. Henry Brzycki says schools need to prevent kids from violence by reconnecting students with their emotional selves when they become depressed or resentful. The toolkit is something districts would get through professional development to include in curriculum.
The Carl Junction school district currently gets help from mental health professionals. And a growing number of students are needing it.
Lead nurse at Carl Junction schools Stacey Whitney said, “We transport anywhere from eight to ten to twelve students a day on our van.”
It takes students to the Ozark center ‘ s Will’s Place clinic on Carl Junction ‘ s Main street. It opened four years ago and the number of students getting counseling daily, weekly or monthly continues to grow. Last year about three hundred fifty students were transported to sessions. Whitney believes that number could double this year.
She said, “We do have students that go to the center from all buildings from kindergarten to 12th grade. And probably the biggest number of those students would be our 4th through 8th graders. I would attribute that a lot to they ‘ re going through physical changes, puberty onset and that sort of escalates everything.”
Whitney said teachers might notice personality changes or a decrease in student’s assignment efforts. Then they make a recommendation to the counselor who may refer students to the clinic.
” I think it ‘ s important to intervene when they ‘ re younger not ignoring their complaints or the situations that the teachers are seeing in the classroom um to keep it from escalating,” said Whitney.
But Dr. Henry Brzycki says referrals aren ‘ t enough and that schools need to include psychological well being in the curriculum. Such as his mental health toolkit to help them deal with students who are disengaged.
Brzycki explained, “When this happens students become resigned or depressed or resentful. When you can reconnect students with their emotional selves and their ability to experience their lives, they become alive and they no longer want to do harm to themselves or to others.”
District officials say mental health counseling is just one piece of equipment in their safety toolbox. They still encourage students to use apps and websites to report things, going by the motto see something say something.
Public relations director for the school district Tracie Skaggs said, “We are trying to make kids feel safe enough to do that, whether anonymously or to a favorite teacher or something like that.”
Skaggs said safety and security is always first on district and school board agendas. Eight years ago the district added double door entries at buildings, key cards for staff and cameras. And most recently added large letters and numbers to identify building entrances and exits.
The school board Monday night discussed how to get the pulse of the community on the school violence and mental health issues among others.
Dr. Brzycki said schools that bring him in for professional development get the toolkit for free but said it is also available for fifteen dollars. You can find information about he Brzycki Group and Center for the Self in Schools by clicking here.