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As the number of students needing programs and services to promote positive mental health and early intervention continues to rise, so does the importance of schools being ready to address this issue efficiently. Recently, schools have partnered with community health, mental health and social service agencies to promote student well-being and prevent and treat mental health disorders. These collaborations allow schools and local agencies to work together to address the growing mental health needs of students.

Beginning July 1, 2018, the New York State Department of Education (NYSED) is requiring schools to implement mental health education literacy.  This, in conjunction with other programs and partnerships in which schools currently engage, will foster “a continuum of well-being.”

It is crucial for teachers to go beyond simply understanding the mental health needs of their students and make a positive impact on their mental health. This means including mental health education and coping strategies in their classroom and sharing information about available resources should a student need help.

Schools can and should go beyond simply instructing students in areas of mental health and take steps to foster a positive school climate, in which all students feel supported and able to reach out should they feel the need. The new regulations and standards offer schools an opportunity to facilitate conversations on mental health education, awareness, prevention and well-being.

When students (and adults for that matter) are taught that mental health is just as important to overall well-being as healthy eating or exercise, there is a greater chance that they will be able to recognize the signs or symptoms of mental health concerns in themselves and others. This knowledge, along with awareness of available resources, will help students know where to go should they or someone else need help. Over time, this will also reduce the negative stigma regarding issues of mental health.

To help teachers begin this process, Questar III is offering a two-part workshop beginning in August to unpack the new framework for mental health education and work with content specialists to create an implementation process.  The NYSED guidelines speak to a school culture of healthy relationships, self-care, open communication, and awareness of mental health resources available to both staff and students.

The workshop is divided into two sections, one for elementary content and health teachers, and another for secondary content and health teachers. Each section consists of two sessions – the first to develop an implementation plan, and the second to reconvene and share best practices and develop a resource guide for regional distribution. This guide will contain research, resources and guidelines for implementing the new standards.

“This training is designed to assist districts understand the new mental health guidance, collaborate with other districts and create materials and resources that support mental health literacy.  Attendees will gain insight, support materials and resources that help students realize success.  As we discuss opportunities for mental health instruction integrated throughout a students’ K-12 experience, we will help districts create a culture of awareness, prevention and well-being,” said School Improvement Specialist Christine Willmart.

Participants at the workshop will:

-Work with specialists to unpack the Mental Health Guidance

-Connect the framework to the Next Generation Learning Standards

-Participate in an ongoing professional learning community through Google Classroom

-Produce a mental health toolbox

See NYSED’s “Mental Health education Literacy in Schools: Linking to a Continuum of Well-Being Comprehensive Guide” here.

REGISTRATION LINKS:

Two-Part Elementary Workshop: https://www.mylearningplan.com/WebReg/ActivityProfile.asp?D=15197&I=2818020

Two-Part Secondary Workshop: https://www.mylearningplan.com/WebReg/ActivityProfile.asp?D=15197&I=2818078

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