Mental Health Support Key to Facilitating Maximum Learning
Youth mental health is a focus area for school districts across the country, including Olentangy. That is why the district is increasing its mental health support within its schools starting this school year.
“Our mission is to facilitate maximum learning for every student, but it’s challenging when mental health issues arise,” said Mark Raiff, Superintendent, Olentangy Local School District. “We must address the needs of the whole child so they can grow and develop in a healthy way.”
Mental health clinicians will now be available at each grade level to provide prevention, assessment, and treatment as well as professional development for staff and collaboration with parents.
At the district’s high schools, support will be provided by The Ohio State University Medical Center. One full-time clinician will be available at each high school plus an additional lead clinician will oversee and help with overflow. Syntero, the district’s existing counseling service, will continue to support the district’s elementary and middle schools as well as Oasis.
To understand the need for student mental health support at Olentangy, the district administered the Panorama Social Emotional Survey last spring to students in grades 3-12. Of students surveyed, 55 percent of elementary students (grades 3-5), 72 percent of middle school students, and 76 percent of high school students reported struggling with anxiety. Also, about half of all students surveyed reported struggling with emotional regulation—the ability to control behavior in a given situation.
“If students are not mentally healthy, they are not able to meet their full learning potential,” said Allisha Berendts, Supervisor of Student Well-Being, Olentangy Local School District. “The survey results allowed us to glean insights about our student body so we could take action to provide effective support.”