World Mental Health Day: addressing mental health in schools

World Mental Health Day: addressing mental health in schools

NEW HANOVER COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) - World Mental Health Day is about raising awareness about suicide and how important mental health is to prevent someone from taking their own life.

According to the World Health Organization, someone loses their life to suicide every 40 seconds. Suicide prevention is this year’s theme for World Mental Health Day.

Mental health is important for everyone including students. With the recent mass shootings in schools, addressing mental health in schools is important. More children and teens are experiencing depression and as a result, a growing number of schools are offering services and resources to help students cope with those mental health issues.

The New Hanover County School System has 116 counselors and social workers at schools who help students through various programs.

“We can’t put a number on the number of students who have been saved by the number of student safety protocols we’ve done, but we know that suicide is the second leading cause of death for students ages 10-18,” said Tanya Jordan, Supervisor of School Counseling and Social Work for NHCS.

Last school year, New Hanover County schools had over 800 students or were either potentially homicidal or suicidal.

Twice a year, those counselors and social workers teach faculty and staff how to identify students at risk for suicide or homicide. The school system also has a program for elementary school students called “Samford Harmony" which teaches communication between teachers, staff, and students. A new program to help prevent incidents happening from either someone harming themselves or others is launching in November. It’s called “Say Something: Anonymous Reporting.”

“Students will be trained on that to be able to identify and report appropriately through an anonymous tip,” said Jordan. “It could be something they see on social media as suicide or homicidal threat.”

New Hanover County Schools also works with agencies like Coastal Horizons and the county health department if there is a more serious case. It allows students to talk to a licensed therapist to address their mental health needs.

“Mental health is just as important as our physical health,” said Jordan. “As we will go to the doctor and seek out help when we may have cold or flu symptoms or any physical ailments, we need to also feel comfortable doing that same thing when we have mental health concerns.”

Brunswick County Schools routinely offers mental health education courses to staff, according to their PIO.

Columbus County School’s PIO said all administrators and many teachers have been trained to view warning signs of mental illness. Schools also offer therapy to students on an as-needed basis along with crisis based mental health services 24 hours a day, all year long.

WECT reached out to Pender and Bladen County Schools about what they offer for mental health services and we have yet to hear back.

To learn more about World Mental Health Day and how you can participate, click here.

The National Suicide Prevention Hotline is available 24/7 at 1-800-273-8255.

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