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Mental Health Services

Mental health encompasses social, emotional, and psychological development in children.

Through the classroom and counseling programs, students in APS learn about social skills, peer mediation, character education, citizenship, stress management, and recognition of psychological or emotional needs. Specific programs address harassment and bullying, as well as suicidal ideation.

In addition to its counseling staff, each school has an assigned school psychologist and school social worker. All high schools also have attendance counselors, substance abuse counselors, school nurses and school resource officers. School-based therapists from the Department of Mental Health support several schools.

School mental health staff maintain up-to-date information about community resources and are prepared to facilitate referrals to agencies and service providers, as necessary.

Every school has a team of professionals that are available to parents. Parents should contact the school principal or school counselor to discuss possible evaluations.

Services in Schools

Areas of the curriculum that address social-emotional skills

  • The Health Curriculum has a strong emphasis on developing a healthy and adaptive lifestyle, including skills for coping with emotions. In the secondary levels, an increasing emphasis is made on stress management and awareness of a variety of mental health disorders, including depression.
  • Counseling programs also provide school-wide classroom instruction that targets prevention of harassment and bullying, at the middle school level.
  • Individual counselors, school psychologists and social workers also offer groups that address the specific needs of their population, including such issues as divorce, addiction, social skills, stress management, etc.

High School Level Programs for Students

All high schools have ongoing programs focusing on citizenship, leadership, peer mediation skills, etc., in addition to their ongoing comprehensive counseling services.

Programs and activities that target anxiety, depression and suicide prevention

Elementary School Level

  • At this level, the emphasis for students is on developing good mental health habits and coping skills.
  • Students
    • Counseling lessons in classrooms to address coping skills
    • Character education
    • Peer mediation/conflict resolution
    • Individual counseling, as needed
    • Screenings of emotional functioning for students who are being considered for, or have been already identified as students with disabilities.
    • Breaking the Silence C 5th grade
  • Teachers
    • Information on how to refer students to counselors
    • Suicide prevention
    • Opportunities to consult with psychologist/social worker
    • Inservice opportunities on crisis management
  • Other
    • School counselors, psychologists, social workers and nurses are available to conduct risk assessments as needed.
    • Student Services staff are available to conduct informational sessions or inservice on topics of anxiety/depression, upon request (for staff or parents).

Middle School Level

  • At this level, additional emphasis continues on developing healthy mental health habits and coping skills; and begins to be made on recognizing and managing stress, as well as specific mental health conditions such as depression. With the recognition that peers often disclose to peers before adults, the curriculum begins to address peer-to-peer mental health support.
  • Students
    • Classroom counseling lessons address harassment.
    • Health curriculum includes definitions of stress, signs of stress, methods of coping with stress, definitions of specific mental health conditions (including depression), ways of treating different conditions, and resources within the school. This curriculum also includes how to respond to friends who express suicidal thinking.
    • Individual counseling is available, upon self- or staff referral.
    • Individual students who have been identified as having a disability, and who receive special education services, are screened for emotional concerns at their triennial review.
  • Teachers
    • All staff are informed how to refer students to counselors.
    • All middle school staff have been offered gatekeeper training for suicide prevention (which includes signs of depression).
  • Other
    • All middle school counselors, psychologists and social workers, and nurses are trained in suicide risk assessment procedures.
    • Inservice on the topic of teen depression is available, upon request (for parents or staff).
    • Middle schools have attendance specialists and substance abuse prevention counselors.
    • The office of Student Services has provided materials, such as videos and lesson plans to facilitate instruction on mental health topics.

High School Level

  • At this level, the emphasis shifts to self-awareness, peer-to-peer support, and reducing the stigma around seeking mental health support.
  • Students
    • Have a variety of activities in which to participate to develop leadership and citizenship skills.
    • Have access to school counselors, school psychologists and school social workers.
    • The health curriculum continues to emphasize recognition of stress and coping skills, as well as more in-depth information on the topics of depression and suicide.
  • Teachers
    • Gatekeeper training for suicide prevention has been offered in all high schools (this includes signs of depression).
    • Teachers are aware of how to refer students to counselors.
  • Other
    • Student Services staff and school staff are available to conduct risk assessments on individual students, as needed.
    • High schools have attendance specialists and substance abuse prevention counselors.
    • The Office of Student Services has provided materials, such as videos and lesson plans to facilitate instruction on mental health topics.

Parent Opportunities

  • Student Services staff are available to speak to parent groups at individual schools on a variety of topics, as indicated by the needs of the population at the particular school.
  • Staff also make presentations at the Parent Resource Center and to other interested groups, as appropriate.

School-level Staff Development and Parent Presentations

Pupil Personnel Services staff collaborate with staff at individual schools to develop staff and parent workshops, information sessions, and presentations on specific topics of concern in response to the needs of their population.

Systemwide Activities for Staff

  • Gatekeeper training to recognize and respond to signs of depression and suicidal ideation is provided to all staff.
  • Risk Assessment Training for psychologists, social workers, counselors and school nurses, in all schools.
  • Ongoing collaboration between counselors, psychologists, and social workers and health teachers in delivering instruction in the mental health areas of the health curriculum.
  • Counselors, psychologists, social workers and nurses are conducting screenings during the course of normally occurring interactions, as needed. For example, psychologists see most special education students as a part of their re-evaluation and conduct interviews as a part of that interaction.
  • The Department of Student Services regularly offers in-service opportunities on the topic of depression and related mental health concerns.