What stresses students? Counselors address mental health concerns in Henderson County schools
Times News - 3/11/2020
Mar. 10--Peer issues, anxiety, stress, home and family problems top the list of non-academic issues students are speaking to school counselors about, based on feedback from Henderson County Public Schools' expanded efforts to address mental health.
Director of Student Services Matt Gruebmeyer gave the School Board an update on mental health initiatives that have taken place.
The Henderson County Board of Commissioners, School Board and nonprofits have been stepping up those mental health initiatives, partly to improve school safety.
Some of the initiatives include hiring social workers as well as offering Youth Mental Health First Aid USA and Trauma-Sensitive Schools training to community members for two years in a row now.
Henderson County has 33 counselors and 11 school social workers in the school system.
Each elementary school is paired with a school counselor. There are one to two counselors at each middle school depending on the number of students. High schools have two to three counselors based on size.
Social workers work one to three days in the elementary schools, two days at the middle and high schools and five days at the Innovative High Schools.
In addition, one worker is trained to work with homeless students and another works with attendance and school success.
In addition, the school system receives support from 18 nurses from the Henderson County Department of Public Health, three behavioral health and two crisis counselors from Blue Ridge Health and four school-based therapists from Crossnore School.
Gruebmeyer presented pie charts showing the top issues middle and high school students are talking to their counselors about, based on figures counselors have reported.
Gruebmeyer said social workers have documented 3,252 interactions with students and staff during the 2019-20 school year. These are broken down into 46.1% at the elementary schools, 39.1% at the high schools and 14.8% at the middle schools.
For high school students, issues about academics and scholarships represented the largest portion of concerns, at 76%. The second-largest issue was anxiety and stress, at 25 %.
Home or family issues (8%), peer or friendship issues (5%) and depression (5%) rounded out the remaining concerns.
Issues presented at the middle school level were more diverse. Peer or friendship issues (18%), anxiety and stress (17%) and home or family problems (17%) topped the list.
Anger or depression (11%), bullying (7%), classroom/learning issues (%5) and "worried about someone else" (3%) rounded out the list. The largest piece (22%) was listed as "other."
Gruebmeyer noted that high school counselors are discussing other issues with students while they discuss academics and scholarships.
Out of 3,062 responses, action was taken on 1,285 of them involving a colleague or team intervention; 1,160 involved individual intervention; 1,098 included a family outreach or home visit; 445 were referred to outside agencies; and 293 involved group support.
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