On March 7, 2017 Scituate Public Schools collaborated with Scituate FACTS to bring a Youth Mental Health Awareness Event to the community.
Jen Lopes, LICSW, and Steve Howley, School Psychologist, of Scituate Public Schools, framed the evening with an overview of common challenges our students face. The video from this portion of the event is now available to watch event at https://youtu.be/YxH9tghxFRo.
The presentation was followed by highly engaging panel discussion, pictured below, from left: Linda Nathan, LICSW, Elementary School Adjustment Counselor; Dr. Susan Cunningham, Psychologist; Gail Matern, who so eloquently shared the parent perspective; and Julie Love, MSN, APRN, PPCNP-BC, Director, McLean School Nurse Liaison Project.
Identifying the trends associated the emotional health needs of our students and associated needs of the community are only the first step. Moving forward, it is important that we reach out to the students in a meaningful manner. As we work towards supporting our students, we recognize the need to continuously support prevention and intervention services. We know that as mental health and behavioral health challenges go untreated they become increasingly difficult to address. Additionally, there are significant increases in risky behaviors such as self-injury and substance misuse associated with unmanaged mental health challenges.
“I am proud of the Scituate Public School community for prioritizing the social, emotional health of all students. As an integral component of the SPS District Improvement Plan, we have a goal pertaining to the cognitive, physical, social, and emotional well-being of our students. The theory behind this goal is if we support the wellbeing of students, then we will successfully educate the whole child and support them to reach their potential,” said Greg Ranieri, SPS Department Chair of Health and Wellness.
For further information pertaining to global SPS Wellness Goal efforts, link to: http://www.scituate.k12.ma.us/images/district/The-Scituate-Educational-Experience-Year-4.pdf
As parents and teachers seek to provide these supports the key concept to focus on is unexpected change in behavior or presentation. You know your child and you know your students. When there is an unexpected and ongoing change in behavior or functioning it is time to address it. It is also okay to not know exactly what the underlying concerns are. That will come with time. The first step is to recognize the change, speak to the child, and reach out for support when needed. For parents that might mean calling the child’s teacher(s) or pediatrician. For teachers, that should include calling the child’s parents and possibly other professionals within the school.
One of main takeaways from the evening is that there are many resources for families managing anxiety, depression, risky substance use and other behavioral health problems. You are not alone, and we will continue our work to bring education and support to the community.
For local resources pertaining to mental health, link to http://www.scituate.k12.ma.us/index.php/school-counseling/south-shore-resource-list
If you have questions or concerns about your child or students, please reach out to the appropriate SPS faculty member at your child’s school. Please link to:
We would like to organize further community discussion regarding behavioral health and mental health challenges. In order to provide the best possible information, we would like to hear your thoughts at: