Faculty board approves psychological well being plan and coaching in July 26 assembly Native information

WATAUGA – The Watauga County Board of Education at its July 26 meeting approved a mental health plan for the school system.

In June 2020, the North Carolina General Assembly passed law requiring preK-12 schools to adopt and implement a school-based mental health plan that includes mental health programs and recommendations for suicide risk.

The plan for Watauga County Schools is to offer a social / emotional learning improvement plan, offer prevention initiatives, and adopt a suicide prevention protocol, according to the mental health plan presented to the board.

Starting in July, WCS’s currently licensed employees – including school principals, assistant principals, general education teachers, and exceptional children’s program teachers – must complete six hours of psychological and social / emotional training by December 31st.

New WCS employees must complete these six hours of training plus two hours of child sexual abuse and human trafficking prevention. All employees must complete these two hours of training in even years after the first year in which the training is accepted.

“We have a six-plus hour menu so employees have a small choice of what to do,” said Paul Holden, Student Services Director of the WCS, to the board. “We’ve had discussions with student union directors across the state, and many of them are doing the same.”

The training has a list of more than 15 courses that staff can choose from to complete the required six hours of training. Training courses include dating violence, youth suicide, self-harm and circumcision, raising awareness of gangs, and creating safe and inclusive schools for LGBTQ students.

The plan also outlines how the school system will provide students and staff with the resources to support mental health and provide students with a comprehensive program of social / emotional learning opportunities.

Holden also gave an overview of the health resources WCS has for students and how they have worked. One group he talked about was the school nurses, whom he praised.

“Our nurses were exhausted by the end of the year,” said Holden. “You just had to work hard. Call parents and talk to them and just do it from sunrise to sunset. You did a great job. Everyone is very proud of her last year. “

The goal of student services at WCS, Holden said, is to support faculty, staff, and administrators to ensure student academic progress and success; Helping students and their families cope with the challenges of a complex world; and to provide students, families, faculty and staff with expertise in areas of physical and mental health, as well as social function and community collaboration.

The school system consists of nine full-time school nurses and a tenth part-time nurse. The school system also employs five school social workers. In its K-8 schools, the school system has 11 school counseling positions with a further four at the upper school level. The system also has four school psychologist posts.

“Our job is to support the class teacher, and we see that as our job,” said Holden. “We really want to help identify challenges that are identified by the people at the school and then have further conversations with the parents and see if we can connect them to resources that will really help the family get better . “

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