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Montgomery, AL: Southern school conference focuses on mental health issues

Aug 28, 2018, Montgomery (AL) Advertiser: Mental health services hot topic at Federal Commission on School Safety meeting Leaders from across the South gathered at the Alabama Capitol on Tuesday afternoon to talk about the things they are doing, and the things that they need help with in regards to school safety as part of two roundtable discussions hosted by the Federal Commission on School Safety. A major theme that was focused on was the mental health of students and how schools need to be more proactive in dealing with mental health issues before unsafe situations occur. In the public comment section following, the same message was reiterated by several speakers. While many leaders pointed to needed logistical improvements focused on the security of a campus, as Gov. Kay Ivey put it, Alabama could build walls around schools as strong as “Fort Knox,” but the real threat is often coming from inside the building from students struggling with mental or societal issues…. So far in Alabama, Beshear said the Department of Education and the Mental Health Department came together “without any money” in the wake of the Sandy Hook school shooting to address school safety. From that, 12 of the state’s mental health centers have created programs in 47 Alabama schools that bring mental health counselors into the school, with schools providing a space for the student to receive services. Parents, administrators and teachers help to identify students that are in need of help…. Donna Bahorich, chair of the Texas State Board of Education, reiterated the importance of providing training to teachers and administrators on how to identify students struggling with mental health issues, and getting information to parents on what resources exist for services….

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