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Loudoun Cty, VA: 20% of kids have a mental illness; call for mental health teams in every school

Feb 8, 2018, Leesburg, VA, Loudoun Now: Supervisors Get Update on Schools’ Mental Health Teams http://loudounnow.com/2018/02/08/supervisors-get-update-on-schools-mental-health-teams/ Five months ago, Loudoun County first introduced mental health teams to some of its schools with a goal of placing similar teams at every public middle and high school in the county. Checking in halfway through the school year, John Lody, the division’s director of diagnostic and prevention services, said the effort was been time and money well spent. Coupled with a national program called Sources of Strength, students are learning how to help one another cope with all that life throws at them long before suicide becomes an option. … He gave the report to the Joint Board of Supervisors/School Board Committee meeting Wednesday. He told the supervisors and School Board members that one-fifth of Loudoun County students have a mental health condition and more than half of them never receive treatment. “So by de facto, schools often become the support for these students,” he said. “That’s why it’s important for us to be prepared to acknowledge the social and emotional needs of our students.” One of those is the creation of mental health teams, made up of psychologists, social workers, school counselors, and student assistance specialists. Right now, 10 out of the county’s 15 high schools and two of the 16 middle schools have mental health teams, and the goal is to have them in every secondary school by next year. Every high school now has an assigned psychologist and social worker, and the counselor-to-student ratio has been lowered from 350 students to one, to 300 students to one. … During the meeting, Superintendent Eric Williams also gave the supervisors—who determine the tax rate each year—a heads up that he and the School Board are asking for more money to expand the mental health teams into every one of the middle schools. The School Board’s budget dedicates $3.2 million to hire a total of 17 more school counselors, seven more social workers, and seven more psychologists. …