The South Colonie Central School District is committed to the mental health and wellness of all students, faculty, and staff members.
The term ‘mental health’ generally refers to one’s emotional, psychological and social well-being. Mental health affects how individuals think, feel and act. It influences how one handles stress, relates to others, works productively, and makes decisions. When mental health is compromised, it impacts a child/adolescent’s ability to learn, their self-perception and self-confidence, and overall engagement at school, with friends, and in community-based activities. It requires a multi-faceted approach for the purposes of early intervention, crisis intervention and prevention, treatment, and promotion of social emotional competence.
What are early warning signs of mental health concerns?
Generally, changes in mood or behavior can be an indicator of a mental health concern. Such changes may include:
- Apathy -loss of initiative or desire to engage in activities
- Changes in mood -significant shifts in emotions
- Sleep/appetite changes -significant increase or decreases
- Decrease in functioning -drop in school grades, difficulty performing daily tasks
- Decline in personal care– diminished hygiene practices
- Withdrawal -social withdrawal, diminished interest in previously enjoyed activities
- Depressed feelings -feeling sad, numb, or like nothing matters
- Anxiety -strong nervous feelings or persistent worry
- Increased anger/irritability – tendency or argue with friends and family
- Substance use -increased alcohol or drug consumption
While one or two of these changes may not be indicative of an emerging mental health issue, if a student is experiencing multiple changes in behavior, and there is an impact on social, school or family functioning, follow up may be warranted. School-based mental health professionals are available to help. There is a school psychologist and social worker in each building, and school counselors are available in the middle and high school levels. Within South Colonie mental health services can be provided by a variety of school-based professionals.
School psychologists are uniquely qualified members of school teams that support students’ ability to learn. They apply expertise in mental health, learning, and behavior, to help children and youth succeed academically, socially, behaviorally, and emotionally. School psychologists partner with families, teachers, school administrators, and other professionals to create safe, healthy, and supportive learning environments that strengthen connections between home, school, and the community. South Colonie psychologists evaluate eligibility for special education services and 504 accommodations.
South Colonie social workers are trained mental health professionals who can assist with mental health concerns, behavioral concerns, positive behavioral support, academic, and classroom support, consultation with teachers, parents, and administrators as well as provide individual and group counseling/therapy. School social workers are hired by the district to enhance the student’s ability to access the curriculum. They are the link between home, school and community in providing direct as well as indirect services to students, families and school personnel to promote and support students’ academic and social success.
School counselors are professionally certified individuals who help students navigate their school experience and develop post-high school educational and vocational plans. An integral part of the total education system, South Colonie school counselors help students form healthy goals, mindsets and behaviors. With the aid of a school counselor, students learn to develop effective collaboration and cooperation skills, practice perseverance, develop time management and study skills, and learn self-motivation and self-direction habits. South Colonie school counselors are available to students in grades 5-12.
District Mental Health Team
The South Colonie District Mental Health team is committed to fostering the emotional wellness of our educational community through the use of education, consultation, prevention, intervention, and the development of community partnerships. It is a multidisciplinary committee that is focused on assessing and supporting the mental health needs of the South Colonie school community. This team is composed of district administrators, psychologists, social workers, teachers, representatives from community agencies, parents and students. The District Mental Health Team meets on a monthly basis in order to: (a) identify and prioritize mental health needs within the district; (b) systematically discuss more comprehensive ways of preventing and addressing mental health issues, (c) increase mental health awareness within the district community, and to (d) inform actions to improve school-based mental health programming.