On-going collaboration between System of Care (SOC) community mental health providers and Wayne Regional Education Service Agency (Wayne RESA) has been focusing on closing the communication gap between mental health and education so that we may better serve the mental health needs of kids in Wayne County.
Recently, representatives from the SOC and Wayne RESA partnered on several projects. One such project was a presentation at a state-wide conference for health educators and school health providers. The presentation highlighted the similarities between the SOC Model used in the mental health arena and the Whole Child Approach to education of our children and youth. A demonstration of how the core values and guiding principles of each model could align to improve health and academic outcomes of students with various types of mental health issues was also shared. Paul Salah, Ed.D., Associate Superintendent for Educational Services at Wayne RESA - provided a presentation for the Children’s Mental Health Grand Rounds in June 2015, giving an overview of the education system and strategies for successful system navigation. Dr. Salah pointed out the necessity for mental health and education workers to speak the same language to achieve optimal results – a challenge that often needs to be addressed when bringing different systems together.
Another initiative focuses on increasing implementation of suicide prevention awareness in the schools. With suicide being the second leading cause of death for adolescents ages 15-24, we know it is imperative for students, teachers, parents and community members to understand the warning signs of suicide and how to take action when someone is talking or thinking about harming themselves. With this initiative, we hope to expand the number of schools implementing suicide prevention by providing them with the necessary training, materials, and access to community mental health resources.
These examples of collaborative work, and others such as Trauma Informed Instruction and Youth Mental Health First Aid, have been rewarding for all involved and represent our collective commitment to better address the mental health needs in our community. Both the community mental health and education systems benefit from the collaboration, but the ultimate winners are the children, youth, and families of Wayne County.