Prioritizing the Health and Well-being of Students and Staff
“When students return to [schools], our first job will be to check in to see how they are doing. Students will have experienced so much since we last saw them: uncertainty about their futures, COVID in their families, possibly hunger, economic stress, the protests against police brutality. They are handling a lot” reminds Megan Marietta, SLPS’ Manager of Social Work Services who advised on student wellness in the re-start plan. Thanks to generous donors, the SLPS Foundation has supported the growth of SLPS’ mental health services over the past three years including the addition of school-based therapists at highest-need SLPS schools and adding “consultant” therapists who can work in different schools throughout the year. Before school resumes, all staff will participate in training designed to prepare them to respond in a trauma-informed way to students’ concerns. Additionally, the SLPS Foundation will convene student support teams at a cohort of schools that are providing one-on-one clinical therapy to students. These providers will be able to offer services remotely if needed. Teachers and students miss their school communities, that sense of belonging and care,” notes Marietta. Trauma Awareness is a foundational training that expands participants understanding of trauma, its impacts on the brain and body, and potential interventions. The presentation sets the groundwork for future in-depth training opportunities. The Trauma Awareness training covers the prevalence and impact of trauma on children’s brain development, the Adverse Childhood Experiences Study (ACES) which first introduced us to the long-term impact that trauma can have on social, emotional and health outcomes, what we must do to help children and families recover from trauma, and what is behind many of the behaviors we see and how we can shift our perspective to serve children and families through the lens of trauma.