Kids can experience mental health issues and kids spend a lot of time at school. So what happens at school when a student needs extra help - for a temporary mental health issue or a long-term diagnosis? How do schools respond and are they a place to find help? Parents, when should you talk to the school about a child's difficulties - is it a phase, is it affecting academics?
IN-STUDIO GUESTS: Joining us from Alaska's mental healthcare community are two women who work in education.
• Bonnie Thurston is the Director of Intensive School & Community Based Services at Denali Family Services. Bonnie spent 16 years in rural Alaska as an educator, principal and administrator for the village of Igiugig. In her position at Denali Family Services she oversees more than 50 behavioral health professionals in Anchorage, Palmer and Wasilla. She says she and her staff offer quality, wrap-around services to children and families in need in the Southcentral region.
• Sally Donaldson is a middle school counselor at D’zantikiheeni Middle School in Juneau. She’s also the contact person the for the Juneau School District’s Students/Families in Transition program. Sally has been a mental health professional in a school setting for many years and she’s the former president of the Alaska Association of School Counselors.
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LINKS FOR FURTHER LEARNING:
WHERE TO FIND HELP:
- Helping Alaskan Students with FASD - One problem some teachers and school officials often mistake as a mental health issue is actually physical disability. Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder occurs in people who were prenatally exposed to alcohol. Alcohol impacts how the brain is built and many of the effects look similar to behavior problems, like willful disobedience. Contributor Anne Hillman learned about how communities and schools around the state are helping kids with FASD succeed.
- A Rural School District Perspective - Alaska’s small communities and schools may have some advantages when it comes to looking out for how kids are doing emotionally - people know each other and can see when things aren’t going so well. But they also have extra challenges - like fewer specialized staff members to handle a crisis, a lot of alcohol abuse and family trauma. Contributor Jessica Cochran spoke with Scammon Bay assistant principal Harley Sundown about how schools in the Lower Yukon School District try to meet the mental health needs of their students with programs like the Natural Helpers.
- Tweens Talk Bullying & Mental Health - Being bullied at school can have an impact on a student’s mental well-being and their ability to concentrate. Contributor Jessica Cochran visited the Alaska Native Cultural Charter School in Anchorage to speak with some seventh grade students about their experiences.
Listen to the whole series here.