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Brecksville-Broadview Heights, OH: District addresses "high number" pupil suicides/anxiety

Oct 2, 2018, Brecksville-Broadview Heights schools develop mental health action plan as pupils report depression, anxiety

BRECKSVILLE, Ohio -- The Brecksville-Broadview Heights schools are developing a "district action plan for mental health" designed to help pupils, parents, teachers and administrators face and deal with mental health issues. The district started working on the plan earlier in 2018 due to a high number of pupils reporting feelings of depression and anxiety, and because of pupil suicides, according to Gina Symsek, Brecksville-Broadview Heights' director of pupil services.

Symsek said some high-school- and middle-school-age pupils are struggling with eating disorders and practicing self-injurious behaviors. … '

Social-emotional learning' Symsek said that according to research, curriculum that includes "social and emotional learning (SEL)" improves academic outcomes for pupils, especially if it starts in preschool and runs through high school….

Symsek said the Brecksville-Broadview Heights district may partner with an outside agency to provide an onsite social worker or psychologist, who would offer support to pupils, with parental permission. In addition to assisting individual pupils, SEL can spot district-wide social-emotional patterns, such as an elevated number of pupils suffering from anxiety.

To evaluate children's social, emotional and mental-health needs, the district will use a "universal screener," a short test that identifies pupils at risk of poor learning outcomes, according to the Center on Response to Intervention.

Symsek said the district has already implemented some universal screeners, including Signs of Suicide for sixth-graders and Youth Risk Behavior Assessment in seventh and eighth grades.

The district plans to choose a new universal screener for pupils in grades 4-12.

Teachers and staffers are also receiving training and mental-health assistance.

Symsek said the district contracts with PEP Assist, a consulting and training service that shows educators how to work with at-risk and special-needs children. The schools are looking to add programs that relieve stress for teachers and staff during the workday.

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