The Arlington Public Schools’ mission is to educate students holistically so that every child has the opportunity to achieve academic, emotional, social and vocational success in an ever-changing world. Attention to students’ mental health is one of the key elements to achieving this mission.
AEF understands the relationship between behavioral health and school success, and has awarded the district $200,000 over the next three years to support the district’s Safe and Supportive Schools initiative.
Last year, two grants enabled the district to assess six critical areas and prepare district and school action plans to create a truly inclusive and supportive Pre-K-12 environment: a $31,000 competitive Safe and Supportive Schools Grant from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary & Secondary Education and a $10,000 Development and Expansion Grant from AEF.
This year, $100,485 from AEF will be used to bring the Youth Mental Health First Aid (YMHFA) program to the district. AEF President Amy Speare describes this program as one that “…demystifies and de-stigmatizes youth mental health challenges and will give Arlington a framework with consistent language and a basic understanding of what adolescent mental health looks like.” Thirty teachers, administrators and staff members will be trained initially, and these certified trainers will help to train around 300 other teachers and administrators in fiscal year 2018. This program is designed to enable individuals to recognize mental health risk factors and warning signs and take action if they see a problem or crisis developing. The information covered includes depression, anxiety, trauma, psychosis and addiction disorders, among others.
The goal in offering this training is to provide additional tools to enable teachers and staff to react proactively to help students stay mentally and behaviorally healthy. For more information about this grant, refer to the AEF press release and the excellent article that appeared in the Arlington Advocate.
(excerpted from the November 2017 Superintendent’s Newsletter)