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Educators discuss dealing with mental health issues in schools

5/29/2014 - South Side Leader
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By Staff Writer

Child Guidance & Family Solutions recently hosted a conference on “Strategies in Dealing With Mental Health in the Schools.”
Photo courtesy Child Guidance & Family Solutions
DOWNTOWN AKRON — School principals, superintendents and directors of student services in 11 districts in Summit County attended the recent “Strategies in Dealing With Mental Health in the Schools” conference. The presentation and panel discussion were hosted by Child Guidance & Family Solutions (CG&FS) at its Central Office May 9.

The panel consisted of Stacey Custer (CG&FS case manager based at Green Middle and Intermediate schools), Sally Dean (CG&FS therapist based at Stow-Munroe Falls High School), Chris Dimauro (principal of Stow-Munroe Falls High School), Lori McCartney (school counselor at Green Middle School), Jeff Miller (superintendent of Green Local Schools) and Daryl Witmer (director of student services at Green Local Schools).

The panel discussed how mental health can impact school performance and the role that educators can play.

According to CG&FS officials, educators are essential in building the protective factors that help establish long-term capacity for positive behavior, social competency and academic achievement. Officials added that schools support mental health on the individual, programmatic and environmental level, and having mental health workers in the school can help develop and implement these strategies.

CG&FS has adopted three different types of models for school-based services, and the panel focused on the contract model. The panel discussed its success with having mental health workers based in their school.

Witmer discussed how Green Local Schools is able to fund two mental health positions, and Miller talked about the decrease of out-of-district placements as a result of the mental health supports. Dimauro reiterated the collaborative approach, while McCartney discussed the benefit of the support to school counselors and teachers.

Elena Aslanides-Kandis, school-based programs coordinator/respite coordinator at CG&FS, said it is vital to discuss strategies to address mental health needs in schools because “children go to school each day with more than their lunch and book bag. They bring a multitude of factors with them that shape their learning and development, and all of these can be linked to mental health.

“At CG&FS, we believe one child is reason enough,” she added. “However, the attendance at this event truly speaks to the way our community is rallying together to meet the needs of our children.”

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