Granville mulls mental health clinic in school

B y Jaime Thomas

With a startling number of Granville students reporting suicidal thoughts or attempts in a recent survey, the district is taking the problem seriously.

School staff, parents and officials from throughout Washington County participated in a forum Monday night to discuss mental health issues among youth.

Michael Gray, director of Washington County Alternative Sentencing and Youth Bureau, led the discussion. At the forum were three representatives from Hudson Falls School District, where several steps have already been taken to combat depression and bullying.

Lisa Hogan, social worker associate, Michelle Burke, school nurse teacher, and Principal Jim Bennefield talked about their district’s partnership with CDPC (Capital District Psychiatric Center) North. The setup provides a clinic in the school that is separate from the district, where students can easily access mental health counseling.

“The convenience of it is really a plus,” Hogan said. “The students go into counseling primarily during study halls. If they’re having an awful, terrible day, they’re able to go down and see a counselor.”

Bennefield explained that the services are for youth in the community up to age 18, who might not otherwise be able to get therapy, and it’s completely confidential.

“The clinic is its own entity—it gives kids a better opportunity to get an intake. There’s so many times we hear parents can’t get away from work or kids can get there; this is easier,” Granville Superintendent Mark Bessen said.

Hogan said all students who use the clinic first undergo psychiatric evaluations.

“I have so much faith in them; they’re such a quality staff,” she said. Bessen told Gray he would be interested in the district looking further into setting up a similar program in Granville.

The Hudson Falls officials also discussed a suicide prevention program with a survey and video, which they believe has been effective. The program, which costs only $395, encourages students to ACT (acknowledge, care and tell).

“The kids really take it seriously. It hits a lot of nerves with a lot of kids. We got a lot of great feedback and follow through with the kids,” Burke said. One parent in attendance said that price is “cheap,” considering all the lives it could save.

According to the survey, almost 9 percent of students claim to have attempted suicide, 14.7 percent say they’ve considered it and about a third report feeling depressed in the prior year.

Bullying

Tying in with the depression conversation is the topic of bullying, which remains a serious problem despite attempts to curb it.

“With bullying you used to see a strong kid picking on a weak kid. The bullying we’re dealing with today is a lot more discreet. The kids are getting bullied 24 hours, seven days a week,” Bessen said.

Hudson Falls uses an anti-program that is different than, but similar to Granville’s own PBIS.

“PBIS is working—the high school is a different climate now than it was five years ago,” Bessen said. The group also discussed the Natural Helpers program, in which students select their own peers to partake in training to stop bullying.

“Look at the different cliques in the schools; that leader is a person that’s going to stand up in that group. I don’t think we’ve worked it to its fullest potential, and we’re looking to make that grow,” he said.

Officials are looking to hold another forum at the beginning of December to further discuss the issues and potential solutions.

 

Comments

comments

Read more in this week's Sentinel in newsstands now or click here to read right now with our e-edition.

Classifieds 03/04/14

Banner year for Whitehall RailRiders

Snowmobile club 1

By Dan King This year has been fantastic for the Whitehall RailRiders snowmobile club, in more ways than one. For […]

Granville MMA fighter to be featured on CNN

Prieur in ring

By Derek Liebig A Granville woman who has spent two-and-a-half years training in mixed martial arts will have her story […]

Students, faculty join to boost school spirit

DSC_0050

By Derek Liebig Granville Central School pride was alive and well, at least for one night, as students, faculty and […]

Whitehall golf second in state for GPA

Whitehall Soccer

The fall 2014 season was great for Whitehall athletes on the course and field, and it continues in the classroom. […]

WHS to host musical Friday and Saturday

Musical

Students at Whitehall High School will be performing a musical this weekend. March 6 and 7 at 7 p.m. each […]

Teacup auction

The Wells United Methodist Church will host a Giant Teacup Auction on Friday, March 13, at the Modern Woodman Hall […]

Solomon Northup reenactor in Salem

The Salem Courthouse Community Center, 25 East Broadway, continues its March Civil War series at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, March […]

Village of Granville taxes to increase

By Derek Liebig A decrease in revenues will lead to a tax increase for village residents. The Granville Village Board […]

Ice fishing clinic at Carter’s Pond

Families who wish to learn the sport of ice fishing are welcome to attend a free ice fishing clinic taking […]

Granville man arrested for heroin

A Granville man is facing drug charges after he was found in possession of heroin and marijuana. Brian L. James, […]

Legault officially leaving in May

Liz Legault

By Dan King Whitehall Central School Superintendent Liz Legault will leave the district in May. Legault was officially introduced as […]