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Dayton, OH: 20% of kids have mental health issues; anxiety/depression on the rise

Aug 19, 2018, My Dayton Daily News: With roughly one-fifth of students showing mental health concerns, schools are taking more steps to help them cope VIDEO ON VACCINE REQUIREMENTS IS ADDED TO THIS STORY Reading, writing and math remain important for teachers, but local schools are dramatically increasing how much attention they pay to students’ coping skills, behavior and mental health. Districts are adding counselors and mental health therapists for at-risk students while implementing school-wide behavior and decision-making programs for all students. One of those programs, Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports, is mandated by the Ohio Department of Education. “Student mental health is a growing concern,” Brookville Superintendent Tim Hopkins said. “We are implementing social and emotional curriculum to help students develop the personal tools to deal with these issues.” Student mental health is a key factor in school safety, as students struggling to cope effectively with bullying and other social problems can, in some cases, lash out. Since at least the late 1990s, roughly 20 percent of children age 9-17 have exhibited some type of mental health concern, according to medical studies cited by ODE’s Health Care Support Toolkit. Half of those children, or 1 in 10 overall, had “significant functional impairment,” meaning the vast majority of classrooms are affected…. But some issues are increasing — Carroll High School Principal Matt Sableski cited a specific rise in anxiety and depression issues the past five years — and they’ve become much more of a classroom focus. The state’s new strategic plan calls for schools to focus on the “whole child,” not just academics…. Many local schools reported increasing the number of counselors or mental health therapists they employ, or boosting existing contracts with agencies such as South Community and Samaritan Behavioral Health…. Research shows that students’ exposure to traumatic events (also called adverse childhood experiences, or ACEs) has an impact on both school performance and overall health. ACEs can include being a victim of abuse or neglect, witnessing domestic violence or having a family member jailed…. Dayton Public Schools Superintendent Elizabeth Lolli said DPS will work this year with five specialists from the Montgomery County Educational Service Center to tackle “issues related to behavioral health and trauma.” The Centerville school district is adding three more therapists this school year to address student health issues, and Kettering expanded its contract with South Community last year to add more mental health counselors…. While Kettering is serving more than 7,000 students, the Newton school district in Miami County has fewer than 700. But Superintendent Pat McBride said Newton added another three-day-a-week counselor to support an intervention staffer who works with students on mental health issues…. The Huber Heights school district is adding social-emotional learning classes at its elementary schools this year, according to Superintendent Susan Gunnell. District spokesman Zack Frink said the course will help students to integrate skills, attitudes and behaviors so they can effectively handle challenges…. New Troy Superintendent Chris Piper said mental health needs “are growing in schools across the state,” adding that Troy has increased services for students and training for staff. Increased services in local schools take many forms, beyond just the heavy lifting of hiring more trained professionals…. The Warren County Career Center will have a licensed therapy dog visit campus multiple times this year. Bellbrook gives high school students “positive referrals” for good behavior and tries to build good habits via “character circles” in its youngest grades. Those fit into the Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports. …

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