Some WS students are not fully educated on the mental health resources FCPS offers. Knowing what assets FCPS has in regards to mental health is crucial to getting the help one needs.
When asked about the mental health resources, the majority of students were unaware that there were any other than counselors.
“I didn’t know FCPS offered any resources other than counselors,” said senior Elijah Moore.
While it is important to have the facilities to help students with mental health issues, it is just as important to let them know what resources are available to them. Students were asked about what FCPS can improve on when it comes to mental health resources and their responses all had to do with spreading awareness.
“I think better[,] more accurate information being taught in health class would help many more students,” stated sophomore Anna Francis.
To assess how all the students are doing in terms of mental health issues, the Fairfax County Youth Survey was made. The survey is anonymous and given at the end of the year to 6th, 8th, 10th, and 12th graders. From that survey, the results are taken into account to see if there needs to be any changes made to how FCPS handles the students’ mental health.
One of the concepts created from the survey is called Three to Succeed. The concept pushes the idea that each student needs at least three solid assets or resilience factors to reduce mental illness symptoms.
“Just meeting with me, their counselor or somebody else in the building is giving them a connection with an adult, or somebody that they trust, and so that’s another resilience factor that we look for,” explained Emotional Disabilities Clinician/School Social Worker, Cynthia Crisafulli. “So we really do what we can to try to lift up students who are struggling with those three to succeed factors.”
In total there are about 40 total factors that can assist a student’s success, but FCPS specifically focuses on identifying three out of these six protective factors:
Having high personal integrity
Having community adults to talk to
Performing community service
Participating in extracurricular activities
Having teachers recognize good work
Having parents available for help
The mental health staff is aware that some students may not be comfortable opening up to a counselor or psychologist. For that reason, they have taken measures to make sure that if students come to another adult in the building, they are prepared.
“We have staff training for teachers in regards to how to access us and who to come to if they have serious concerns about students, but also training about how to engage and have those conversations with students when they have those concerns,” explained school psychologist Wendy Segar.
As a response to quarantine, the district made some changes about how online school worked. Changes like asynchronous Mondays, at least 50% credit, and regulations on homework were all made to alleviate some of the stress in the staff and students during online school.
“Some students need more of a one on one type of instruction so giving [teachers] opportunities to meet with those students on Mondays, and having office hours throughout the week are ways that the district was trying to help support students,” said Segar.
According to Segar and Crisafulli, students should talk to their counselor if they are having concerns about their mental health. From there they can be sent to a school’s social worker or psychologist to get the help that they need. For students who are in a crisis, don’t be scared to call the sucide prevention hotline: (703)-527-4077.