Education and Early Intervention for Mental Wellness

The Sequim School District received a one-year grant from Clallam County Health and Human Services to initiate a program for mental wellness for high school students.

Program Summary

As communities increasingly recognize, awareness of our mental health status is critical in healthy development. The earlier that systems intervene to provide understanding and tools to guide children and their families in seeking well-balanced social/emotional functioning, the more effective that effort can be. Schools provide ready access to teaching and broad segments of society about these critical health issues. The Sequim School District is launching such an effort, using evidence-based approaches and qualified staff.

The program includes ongoing training concerning mental health functioning for relevant staff members and all students at the high school level. Program staff assist in counseling families and students, and in securing additional resources through community linkages and supports.

Program Description

The mental health curriculum is provided during the freshman year of every student at Sequim High School via the required freshman health class. A program manager, working directly with the Learning Support Services Director and the High School Principal, oversees training of appropriate teachers and counselors in the curriculum to assure continuity among staff.

Topics included in the curriculum are
        - Reducing stigma
        - Understanding mental health and mental illness
        - Information on specific mental illness – eating disorders, anxiety, depression, ADHD, obsessive compulsive disorder, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and PTSD
        - Experience of mental illness
        - Seeking help and finding support
        - Importance of positive mental health

In addition to overseeing the implementation of the mental health curriculum, the program manager, as a credentialed professional equipped to respond to student inquiries and conduct counseling of students and their families, determines when referrals for more intensive treatment is indicated, and develops, maintains, and strengthens linkages to outside resources and systems for adolescents and their families.