Connect program focuses on student’s Mental Health

Several months ago, Cassia schools communicated with parents of three district schools that a new student assistance program was available to support families when life circumstances presented challenges above and beyond available resources and abilities. This program is called Connect and as of January 10, we have been able to expand to every school and every grade. Because of a very generous personal donation to the program, we are now encouraging families to explore this benefit. In short, Connect is a program that provides immediate and confidential access to licensed clinicians for a variety of issues ranging from anxiety to depression to grief. Our hardworking counselors can only do so much with limited time and resources. This program is intended to support and increase access to help, as well as, remove barriers.

Student behavioral health is a priority for our school Trustees. When Cassia School district took on safety as a priority, the Board investigated every aspect of the issue. The Board concluded that there are only so many facility precautions that schools can make. Only so many security cameras and only so many wireless door access features. At some point, schools have to look at root causes that lead to violence and aggressive behaviors. School violence is not predictable and proper preparation goes a long way to keeping kids and teachers safe.

Connect is a resource to address a broad range of personal difficulties that may be causing distress. The benefit provides face to face counseling to resolve concerns. The counseling services are available at no cost and are confidential. Most problems can be addressed in just a few sessions or over a couple of months. However, some problems may not be appropriately treated in the short term and may require a referral to additional services.

Students are dealing with issues at every point of the spectrum. Stress, anxiety, depression, separation, grief, substance abuse, addiction, peer relationships and suicidal thoughts. Not all teen problems call for specialized attention, let alone intensive counseling. Care with Connect will be personalized according to individual needs. Students or parents can request the help, as well as, counselors, teachers and administrators suggesting students seek out professional help.

Parents don’t need a referral and don’t have to wait for someone to tell them to make a contact and they do not have to report to someone that they called. The message we are promoting throughout our schools is simple: It’s okay to say I need help. We are asking our staff to be watchful of indications that could suggest a student is struggling. We are also supplying parents with the phone number so they can make contact at any time throughout the school year or summer months. Connect is not a program where we hope to save money for something else. Helping kids is what the money is for.

One hundred percent of the program is funded through private donations. Which doesn’t mean that the district isn’t investigating every possible funding source. The goal is for Connect to be viable and sustainable in the long term. The need is there, we have the data to support it even with only a few months of information under our belts.

Ultimately, Board trustees believe that connecting all students to help and to hope, when it’s needed, will contribute to overall success at Cassia schools. Parents can visit with their local school personnel for more information.

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