Five Leander ISD students have taken their own lives since the school year began. The district is taking proactive steps to address this issue with a program to help equip parents, students and community members with tools to identify individuals with mental health concerns.
Supporting Our Teens in Today’s Society, the presentation in question, will be put on by the Leander ISD counseling services department and include topics such as dealing with stress and maintaining balance with school and outside activities, information regarding how LISD responds to reports of bullying, common adolescent mental health concerns and illnesses, risk factors for suicide, assistance available within the Leander ISD community and how to access help and an overview on Amare Outreach, a Leander High School student-led platform of teens helping teens.
Superintendent Dan Troxell said mental health concerns impact communities nationwide, and students are not immune.
“It is common to feel anxious before a test or a school performance, or to feel sad after a death in the family, the end of a relationship or when experiencing negative peer-to-peer interactions,” Troxell said. “If these normal feelings lead to deeper mental health concerns, it may impact how a child feels, acts and handles daily activities. If these feelings persist, parents may want to seek assistance for their child.”
Leander ISD parents and students are invited, and students are welcome to attend if parents believe they are developmentally ready for the topics at hand. District officials said they believe they can help students by working collaboratively to address mental health concerns, as these issues extend beyond the boundaries of the schools.
Presenters will include Steve Clark, director of counseling services; Brandon Evans, senior director of student support services; campus-based school counselors, family services team social workers, chemical abuse prevention program counselors and representatives from Bluebonnet Trails Community Services.
“The key to student wellness is for all involved to recognize and proactively address any concerns,” Troxell said.
Leander ISD officials said in an effort to identify students in need early on, they are working on multiple fronts:
-The Leander ISD Board of Trustees has made mental health a legislative priority and continues to work with our elected officials to increase support for mental health.
-Staff members are trained on campus processes and procedures to access help for students in need.
-Staff receives annual training on awareness of signs of mental health concerns in students and suicide prevention training.
-Students, parents and community members have access to the Anonymous Alerts system to report concerns regarding a student’s well-being or safety. All reports are investigated by a campus counselor or administrator.
-A community-wide event, “Raising a Healthy Teen,” was held in the fall of 2016, where Leander ISD school counselors, licensed clinical social workers, and substance abuse counselors, along with community agencies provided information on mental health in adolescents.
Supporting Our Teens in Today’s Society will take place on April 17 at 6:30 p.m. in the Cedar Park High School’s Performing Arts Center.