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Good Mental Health into School Culture

Incorporating good mental health habits into the school culture was the topic at a roundtable for Portage County school personnel hosted by the Suicide Prevention Coalition of Portage County.

The meeting began with a presentation on the Red Flags framework and toolkit for school based mental health education and suicide prevention. Penny Frese, PhD, Red Flags founder, offered ideas and materials for teachers and counselors to use.

“Entire school communities need to come together to expand mental health literacy; promote sound mental health habits; and identify, refer, and accommodate students with developing mental health concerns,” said Frese. “Our children's mental health and its impact on learning and teaching is a serious issue.”

School counselor Ira Campbell shared the success Streetsboro has had with the Actively Caring for People movement in the high school and strategies for student involvement.

Other programs and ideas discussed were posting positive notes on student lockers, holding a Start with Hello week, developing protocol for students returning from suspensions or hospitalization, creating student led groups for anti-bullying and kindness projects, and training for staff.

Counseling and prevention staff from Children’s Advantage, Coleman Professional Services, and Townhall II facilitated the discussion.

“It was encouraging to see the participation from each school district in Portage County. The emotional well-being of our county’s children is a priority,” stated Joel Mowrey, PhD, executive director of the Mental Health & Recovery Board. “Schools everywhere are stretched thin. The Mental Health & Recovery Board along with our agencies are here to help.”

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