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State to put more of a focus on mental health in schools

Published: Jul. 6, 2021 at 7:12 PM EDT
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BEAUFORT, N.C. (WITN) - The new school year is still several weeks away but right now school districts across the state are busy preparing for how they will implement a new statewide mental health policy.

Starting July first schools in North Carolina were required to adopt the new policy. For leaders in Carteret County Schools, the policy is adding to an already well-established mental health program.

Student Support Services Director Dr. Sue Kreuser says for the past few years the district has had several courses that students take part in that focus on several aspects of mental health.

“The program not only addresses substance abuse but it really teaches skills necessary to make good decisions for a lifetime and all of the lessons are age appropriate and build upon one year to the next,” explained Dr. Kresuer.

Under the new state policy schools must also offer additional training for teachers and staff. The training focuses on six main components of mental health and other issues students face, such as substance abuse, sexual abuse prevention, dating violence, sex trafficking, and overall mental health awareness.

“There’s a significant amount of staff training that’s required, we are moving in a direction to have all of our folks take a very comprehensive either youth mental health first aid training, or a course through the mental health technology transfer center,” said Dr. Kresuer.

Dr. Kresuer also says parents and the community need to be involved in caring for the mental health of students. She suggests that parents keep open lines of communication with their children saying, “A constant conversation about how things are going is really important.”

School leaders also strongly encourage parents to reach out to school counselors to keep them informed about how their children are doing so that staff can also keep supporting the students.

For more information on the statewide policy, you can visit the Department of Public Instructions website, https://www.dpi.nc.gov/districts-schools/classroom-resources/k-12-standards-curriculum-and-instruction/programs-and-initiatives/nc-healthy-schools/school-mental-health-policy

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