May is Mental Health Awareness Month
Each year, millions of Americans face the reality of living with a mental health condition. According to Mental Health America (2017), one in five Americans will be affected by a mental health condition in their lifetime, and every American is affected or impacted through their friends and family. National Mental Health Month raises awareness about mental illness and related issues in the United States. In recent times, attitudes toward mental health issues appear to be changing. Negative attitudes and stigma associated with mental health issues have reduced, and there has been growing acceptance of mental health issues and support for people with them. Throughout May, mental health agencies and advocates across the country are raising awareness for the importance of mental health. Each year, the movement grows stronger. Take action today to help others as we fight stigma by talking about risk factors and indicators of mental health or substance use disorders with students and staff. You also can provide peer support counseling opportunities and guidelines on how to recognize behaviors that may be indicative of a mental health or substance use disorders.
Safe and Healthy Schools Summit
The Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, Ohio Department of Education and PreventionFIRST! will be hosting a one-day conference, Safe and Healthy Schools Summit/Supporting Youth Through Evidence-Based Practices, on Tuesday, June 6 from 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m. at the Quest Conference Center, 8405 Pulsar Place, Columbus. The purpose of this conference is to provide superintendents, principals, school counselors, teachers and behavioral health professionals the opportunity to learn about the successes of the Safe Schools & Healthy Students federal grant that Ohio has been administering for the past four years. RCHs/Social Work CEU’s and CHES hours are being applied for.
The conference objectives are:
- Inform participants about system-based approaches for identifying behavioral health needs of students.
- Demonstrate use of multi-tier system approaches and evidence-based practices.
- Provide practices for sustaining school and community partnerships and behavioral health services.
Learn more on the Safe Schools Healthy Students webpage.
Spotlight on Williams County Safe Schools Healthy Students Grant Activities
The Safe Schools Healthy Students grant has promoted the healthy development of students and youth violence prevention in Williams County schools. A federal grant program established in the aftermath of school shootings in the late 1990’s, the grant work has successfully provided services to more than 13 million youth across the nation and is rapidly growing in Williams County. The Safe Schools Healthy Students grant came to Williams County in 2013 as a four-year grant to engage youth, families, schools and community stakeholders in building the local and statewide capacity to mitigate behavioral health problems in youth from preschool through 12th grade. Before receiving the grant, Williams County schools were left to figure out these kinds of problems on their own. This program strengthened the role of schools as healthy learning environments that support academic, social and emotional growth.
During the first two years of the grant, significant planning took place to prepare the school and community partners for identifying student needs and organizational capacity for program implementation. During year three, care coordinators were hired to work with students who have been identified as needing mental or physical health care or basic needs assistance in Williams County schools. Of the county’s seven school districts, six of them have taken advantage of care coordinators. The three care coordinators have been so highly valued that participating school districts are considering sustaining their positions beyond the life of the grant. Additionally, the schools have partnered with community hospitals and wellness centers to bring a licensed social worker trained in student counseling into the schools to directly benefit students, eliminating cost and travel barriers that in the past may have prevented students from getting the help they need.
Now in the fourth year of the grant, Williams County schools and community leaders have been working to ensure the program continues beyond the federal funding cycle. The success of the programs in Williams County have been driven by the community’s desire to meet the needs of their students, and the grant has given them an opportunity to see how they can pull together to do so. For contact information and to learn more about how to improve school climate the behavioral health, visit the Safe Schools Healthy Students webpage.
Edgewood City School District Completes 2017 Emergency Management Test
By Katharine Piaskowy, Butler County Educational Service Center
Edgewood City School District, with support from the Butler County Educational Service Center, conducted a hazardous materials tabletop exercise in January. Edgewood High School tested the district’s emergency operations plan — particularly, shelter in place, communications, evacuation and student reunification.
The exercise was supported by more than 60 participants, including emergency responders from Butler County law enforcement, fire departments, state and county emergency management agencies and other Butler County school districts. The exercise identified areas for improvement that will be applied to future planning considerations and training opportunities. This is an important step in creating a comprehensive emergency management program for all schools and districts in Butler County.
With the evolving administrative code for school plans and exercises, all schools and districts are required to establish an exercise cycle. This is a critical program in order to establish comprehensive emergency management plans. By exercising the district/school plans, staff and administrators can build consensus and confidence in responding to emergencies. The schools and districts plan to lead more exercises this year. Butler County Educational Service Center will continue to support the schools and districts as they develop comprehensive emergency management programs.
School administrators can use the information from exercises like the one in Edgewood City Schools to satisfy the state-required emergency management test for multiple schools and even districts, depending on the size of the exercise. Submitting the information in SAFE allows schools to maintain, track and implement ideas for improvement in their school safety plans. Ohio Administrative Code requires schools to document scenario details from their exercises, partners who participated, plan strengths and areas of improvement discovered during the test.
Ohio Suicide Prevention
The Ohio Suicide Prevention Foundation is offering Kognito gatekeeper trainings for Ohio school teachers, staff and administrators for free! These trainings educate school personnel on how to recognize and help students who are in distress through online simulations and conversations.
All trainings use online avatars to equip school personnel with lessons on recognizing warning signs of distress in students, initiating and holding helpful conversations, identifying when further help for students is needed and referring youth to appropriate services.
Step-In, Speak Up uniquely focuses on equipping school staff with knowledge in how to create welcoming school environments for LGBTQ youth.
For more information on the trainings, visit: ohio.kognito.com.
To access the trainings visit: ohiospf.org. Registration is free with enrollment key: ohiospf
Annual Certification Reminder
If your school emergency management plans were evaluated in 2016 or before, remember that your school or district is required to certify that the plans are still current and accurate by July 1 each year. Information, such as emergency contacts and floor plans, should be checked for accuracy and updated in SAFE. After verifying accuracy, administrators then document the date they reviewed their plans.
Seminar on Teen Violence
The Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy, through the Attorney General’s Office, is hosting a seminar in September for anyone who works with juveniles. The course, entitled “Why Teens Kill,” explores reasons for teen violence and prevention techniques. Registration cost is $175. The event is being held at 4055 Highlander Parkway in Richfield, Ohio. For more information or to register, please click here.