There will be more trained adults on the lookout every day to help students grappling with mental health issues as a grant from the Peter and Elizabeth C. Tower Foundation is implemented in the Hamburg Central Schools. The two-year grant totaling $75,000 will initially fund training for school counselors, social workers and psychologists in the 2016-17 school year. They will then train administrators, teachers, staff, parents/caregivers and other community members.
This addition to the districtwide safety net will help to identify children with social, emotional and behavioral challenges early on and connect them to appropriate services and resources. By raising awareness and providing a supportive environment, school personnel also hope to alleviate the stigma around mental health issues.
“Students struggling with mental health issues don’t need to face their challenges alone,” said Colleen Kaney, Assistant Superintendent of Student Services, Curriculum & Instruction. “They’ll always have someone they can turn to in our schools.”
“The training won’t diminish the important role of our school counselors, psychologists and social workers, but rather allow more staff to be aware of signs and symptoms of mental health issues so that our students are connected to help more quickly.”
The grant will fund training on the signs, symptoms and risk factors of mental illnesses and addictions. This will include such areas as anxiety, depression, substance use, disorders in which psychosis may occur, disruptive behavior disorders and eating disorders.
While training will eventually be provided for staff from PreK to Grade 12, the initial focus will be on middle and high school, due to the risks and vulnerabilities of that particular age group.
“Adolescence is a critical period for mental, social and emotional well-being and development, and many mental health problems first present during that time,” Ms. Kaney explained. “Untreated mental health problems may lead to poor school performance, strained family relationships, involvement with the child welfare or juvenile justice systems, substance abuse and other risk behaviors. Students who receive a behavioral health intervention show greater resilience and emotional functioning.”
The grant proposal was initiated by Ms. Kaney and developed in collaboration with Robert J. Miller & Associates, the district’s grant writing consultant.
-- Oct. 6, 2016