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Roseburg, OR: More kindergartners come with social/emotional issues

Oct 27, Roseburg (OR) News-Review: Douglas County schools prioritize mental health https://www.nrtoday.com/news/education/douglas-county-schools-prioritize-mental-health/article_5e7171d3-f2ba-5b9e-a351-f2103f857540.html Hucrest Elementary School teachers start each day by calling their students to the carpet, not to be reprimanded but to learn about emotions and each other. “We can’t assume that human being know things. We have to understand that we have to teach them thing, we have to teach them skills,” Hucrest Principal Doug Freeman said. “They can’t understand their feelings unless they know what their feelings are and they can identify them when they have them. And then they can regulate those feelings, once they understand those feelings.” … The curriculum to these social-emotional learning morning meetings are adjusted to each grade level, with kindergartens learning through a pop-up book and fifth graders exploring more complex feelings and emotions, such as jealousy…. “It’s a foundation for mental health,” Freeman said. “We want people to be mentally healthy. You can’t be the best you can be, as a human being, if you’re not mentally healthy. … Douglas Education Service District is focusing a lot of its attention on the youngest residents in the county. Many of which don’t even attend school yet, because there has been an increasing number of students starting in kindergarten who simply weren’t ready for school. “The thing people miss a lot is the 0 to 5 group. While it’s before school begins, that is the critical period when most mental health impact begins. That’s when the most brain growth and development happens in a child,” DESD Behavior Support Director Alison Hinson said. “We have a lot of kiddos coming into kindergarten with dysregulation issues and emotional issues, trouble coping.” Being able to get those students the services they need early is important, because they can be expelled from preschools which can exacerbate the problem when students are then forced to move to a different school — creating attachment issues and increased stress for the family…. “I think we are really in a place of strong collaboration with all the schools and all of our community partner organizations to be actually making an impact, a positive one,” Hinson said. “My hope is the funding and legislation and public awareness is going to move us forward, so that we have the ability to intervene earlier and at the appropriate levels.”… To recognize mental health issues, Douglas Education Service District holds various training sessions for educators and administrators. “The only responsibility we ask of the teacher is to identify when a student appears to need more help,” Hinson said. “They know when something is off. They’re also aware of children’s development in a way that is helpful. ... We ask them to be our first layer of identification.” According to the National Alliance of Mental Illness, 20% of students are affected by mental illness, and one in six Americans between 6 and 17 experience a mental health disorder each year. To put this into perspective, it means that in a classroom of 25 students, five of them would be affected by a mental illness…. Schools throughout Douglas County are working with Compass Behavioral Health, Roseburg Therapy LLC and private institutions to bring therapists and psychologists to the students. The providers then bill the health insurance of the students…. Douglas Education Service District and Compass Behavioral Health, a nonprofit organization, started working together two years ago and there are currently four therapists who serve school districts in Douglas County besides Roseburg…. Glide and Winston-Dillard School Districts opted to receive services from Roseburg Therapy LLC instead. Roseburg Therapy LLC started providing licensed services for the schools in 2018 and has since expanded to provide mental health services to 36 schools in Lane County, and is continuing to grow outside Douglas County. Roseburg Therapy LLC founder Josh Lydon said he’s willing to work with other mental health professionals to provide more services in schools. Compass, however, does not work in schools that have contracts with other mental health care providers…. Elkton Charter Schools contracted with a licensed professional of their own and does not currently receive services from anyone else. Each school district in the county has access to behavioral specialists through DESD as well. “It’s really great because you have the ability to build really comprehensive programming,” Hinson said about the care in small schools, adding that knowing the students one-on-one allows schools flexibility in creating a plan. Roseburg Public Schools signed a contract with Compass Behavioral Health to provide care for its students, in addition to the care that’s provided by staff at the schools. … Roseburg has five licensed school psychologists, which includes one intern and one psychologist who works part-time as the autism consultant. There are also child development specialists at each elementary school and counselors at the middle and high schools, as well as a skills trainer…. While most schools started offering more comprehensive mental health care two years ago, the education service district started hiring staff for its behavioral support department five years ago…. Hinson said her staff assists with suicide screening as well as risk assessments for kids who have expressed a threat at school, and else needed by the school district. The organization also hosts professional development sessions for teachers, administrators and school staff about mental and behavioral health, including conscious discipline or collaborative problem solving…. This year Gov. Kate Brown signed several pieces of legislation to have more preventative mental health care in schools, including a bill that allows students to take a mental health day without risking an unexcused absence and mandating suicide-prevention education in schools. …

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