Coordinators Are Putting Their Heads Together to Address Student Mental Health

The COVID-19 pandemic has elevated feelings of stress and anxiety among all age groups; but the negative effect on the mental health of youth across the country has been devastating. According to a recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey, more than four in 10 teens reported feeling “persistently sad or hopeless” and one in five has contemplated suicide.

To explore ways to address this issue, the Bold Goals Coalition launched the school district Mental Health Coordinator Network in the fall of 2021 by convening Mental Health Coordinators from across Central Alabama to explore ways to enhance support for student mental health among school districts, community-based organizations and mental health providers.

Facilitated by Dr. Melissa Shields, Regional Academic Coordinator for the Alabama State Department of Education, group meetings have focused on topics such as social emotional learning and the use of screening tools, such as the Rhithm app, a K-12 student wellness check-in tool that uses daily emoji assessments to create relevant social emotional learning activities.

The group has also discussed utilization of school-based Response to Intervention (RTI) and Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS) efforts to provide a multi-level prevention system to ensure positive outcomes in all areas of a student’s life and promote equitable opportunities for student success.

The critical role of school district Mental Health Coordinators has been amplified as the mental health needs of students have risen to new levels in the past two years. This network is committed to continuing exploration of strategies to fortify mental health services in our region — and collaborating to support the mental health needs of our Central Alabama students.

The Bold Goals Coalition is 200 organizations solving big community problems by aligning partners, resources and agendas.