New State Law Helps Students

New State Law Helps Students

After the death of a family member, a 16-year-old local high school student was struggling with depression. Someone notified the school’s social worker, who began meeting with this young woman. And when the student missed school one day, the social worker notified authorities so that they could conduct a welfare check. Thankfully, the social worker and the deputy got to the student’s house just in time. The young woman was about to go through with her plans of committing suicide, but they were able to intervene. They directed her to David Lawrence Centers, where she was able to receive the help she needed.

A life was saved! And it was likely due to new state legislation in effect for the first time this school year – Senate Bill 7026, also known as the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act. Among other things, the new law – which allocated more than $300 million to school districts statewide – addresses safety issues and provides the schools with more licensed mental health professionals and resources. Locally, Collier County Public Schools (CCPS) received about $1.1 million in state funds for its Mental Health Assistance program.

CCPS contracts two DLC employees for its team, which now includes seven full-time school psychologists and eight licensed mental health professionals – more than ever before, thanks to the new funding.

“The feedback from school counselors, school psychologists, and school administrators has been overwhelmingly positive regarding the addition of the mental health professionals,” says Caroline Brennan, Supervisor of Social Emotional Learning and Mental Health Support with CCPS. “They have worked toward the creation of an integrative team that collaborates the needs of CCPS students and families.” Karen Buckner, Director of Children’s Community Services at DLC, is also positive about the added resources.

Buckner says that with more personnel, they’re more likely to be aware of students who are struggling, and to be more proactive in providing the services they need – and even saving lives, as was the case with that 16-year-old girl. Before, with resources and people spread so thin, they were less likely to detect those kids in need.

Buckner also praised the county-wide cooperation and collaboration among various parties – DLC, CCPS, the Sheriff’s Office, Catholic Charities, NAMI, and other agencies: “These professionals really come together for the purpose of how we can best serve the youth and families in the most effective and supportive way possible.”

Mar 07, 2019 | Blog, Mental Health

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