Adolescence is a challenging time and is marked by a number of physical, social, and emotional changes. The Montgomery Area School District is committed to promoting the overall health and emotional well-being of our students. We provide education and resources to students that encourage positive choices and promote habits that support mental health and well-being. We are using several evidenced-based curricula to educate our students about various social, emotional, and mental health related topics.
Too Good For Drugs (Grade 7)
Too Good for Drugs is a substance abuse prevention program that helps students build confidence while developing communication and decision making skills. Too Good for Drugs underscores the importance of healthy relationships and how they impact positive decisions. Students learn about the dangers of various drugs and alcohol, the cycle of addiction, the roles of peer pressure, and the influence of social media. The Too Good for Drugs curriculum is provided by the West Branch Drug and Alcohol Abuse Commission. The lessons provide a foundation of skills and attitudes needed by young people today.
Second Step Curriculum (Grade 7 and 8)
The Second Step Curriculum is a social emotional learning program offered throughout the year to our junior high school students. This evidenced-based curriculum covers four main topics:
- Developing a Growth Mindset and Setting Goals
- Recognizing Bullying and Harassment, Standing Up for Self and Others, and Responding Appropriately
- Recognizing Unhealthy Thoughts, Handling Emotions, and Learning to Cope with Stress
- Managing Social Relationships and Dealing with Conflict
Aevidum (Grade 8)
Aevidum is a mental health and suicide prevention curriculum. This curriculum helps students learn about the importance of positive mental health and factors that support a healthy lifestyle. Students learn to recognize the signs of depression and become familiar with resources to get help for themselves or others. Discussion about life stressors, support networks, and healthy coping mechanisms help students develop a plan to handle adversity.
Mind Matters (Grade 9)
The Mind Matters curriculum is designed to help students overcome adversity and build resilience. Students will learn the value of a positive mindset and how to harness personal strengths to deal with stress and adversity. Valuable skills will be introduced and practiced: the use of meditation as a calming strategy, active listening to increase mindfulness, and the identification of personal strengths.
Wake Up and Learn (Grades 7-12)
We have recently partnered with Dr. Anne Marie Morse, Pediatric Neurologist, to provide our innovative Wake Up and Learn program. It is estimated that 30% of American students fail to get an adequate amount of sleep each night. Failure to get the recommended amount of sleep impacts students in multiple ways:
- Difficulty paying attention and staying on task
- Problems learning or needing extended periods of study time to master material
- Increased potential for athletic injuries due to slower reaction times and fatigue
- Increased risk taking behaviors
- Higher probability of automobile accidents due to fatigue of young drivers
- Reduced immunity and potential for illness
- Higher incidence of mental health issues including anxiety and depression
The Wake Up and Learn program provides screening as well as education. Our new program includes a screening tool that will provide feedback to students about their sleep habits. In addition, student scores will be reviewed by the Wake Up and Learn team. Students who receive elevated scores may be asked to participate in additional screenings in order to better understand what factors are impacting the quality of their sleep habits. Students who continue to show elevated scores will be given the option to schedule an appointment with a pediatric neurologist at Geisinger or primary care physician for follow up, if warranted.
The Wake Up and Learn program is multi-dimensional. Students, faculty, staff, and parents will be educated about the importance of sleep. Students who receive adequate sleep feel better and report higher levels of overall happiness. Educational materials and information will be shared in an effort to empower students to make healthy choices regarding sleep.
VIDEO: Meet and Greet with Dr. Morse
Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise (Grades 7-12)
Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise is an event that occurs once per year. Students in each grade level learn about developmentally appropriate topics that relate to social, emotional, and physical health. Topics include: hygiene, nutrition, mental toughness, healthy relationships, mindfulness, resilience, self-care, to name a few. Topics may change slightly each year based on the availability of speakers.
Why are we using mental health screenings?
Despite all of our efforts and attention to adolescent mental and emotional health, we know that more needs to be done. It is estimated that 15-20% of American students struggle with mental health related issues. Substantial levels of stress, anxiety, and depression often go unreported.
What are the mental health screenings being used?
We recognize the importance of early detection and intervention and have made the decision to provide a school based mental health screening (BASC-3 BESS) as well as the Epworth Sleepiness Scale (ESS), and the Childhood Sleep Questionnaire (CHSQ) to all students periodically throughout the year.
The self-administered screenings will be completed using the student Chromebooks and will be done during the school day. Students who are remote will also be given the opportunity to complete the surveys. As part of our screening process, we will contact the parents of students who have elevated scores to discuss the results. These screenings will assist us in identifying student concerns, and help us address the needs of our students more effectively and efficiently. A proactive approach will enable us to better serve our students and community.
The research suggests that using school based mental health screenings helps reduce barriers to learning, increase access to mental health services, and leads to positive educational and behavioral outcomes.
Questions about mental health screenings?
We believe we are providing Montgomery students with the best opportunities for success in and out of the classroom. We hope that you will allow your child to participate in the school based mental health screenings.
Please direct questions to Denise Liscum, Secondary School Counselor, at 570-547-1608 ext. 1115 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
All of our students in grades 7-12 will participate in the mental health screenings. These screenings will take place three times a year in the classroom. If you do not want your child to participate, please contact Denise Liscum at email@example.com or 570-547-1608 ext. 1115.