Carroll High School Blog
In our September blog regarding the Health and Wellness initiatives, I detailed Carroll’s commitment to expanding our prevention and safety programs, including a screening of all freshmen called SBIRT (Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral Services). As I mentioned, “SBIRT has been used with tremendous success during the protocols for those students that entered our positive testing matrix. I found the screening provided a valuable tool for identifying students needing assistance with major anxiety and mental health struggles. Often, these issues related to mental health have direct correlation to possible addictive tendencies and drug use. I believe the earlier we can provide possible intervention and identify triggers with our student body, we can be proactive in preventing possible drug and alcohol use.”
The Montgomery County Educational Service Center prevention educators met with me and our counselors to review the results of the screenings. These results have provided necessary indicators for directing future educational programming as well as expanding and continuing to support current initiatives. One anecdotal piece of information reported by a vast number of students was the value of our Study Skills curriculum instituted by Mr. Chris Ochs. Most freshmen are in a study hall where Mr. Ochs conducts a specific curriculum in order to aid students in the transition to high school. The number one issue found in the screenings was anxiety and stress related to school work. Our prevention educators found that most of our students mentioned the transition from 8th grade to high school, or it was found that they have need for assistance with the added responsibilities of life as a high school student. Time management, homework loads, balancing after school activities, and general expectations created stressors in their life. If not addressed, these stressors have the potential to lead to further mental health related problems and possible addictive behaviors/negative coping skills. The majority of our students are handling these stressors well and taking advantage of the assistance from the Study Skills class. However, there are a few students that need additional support in coping with these stressors. Other topics found needing coping skills and assistance were general depression, body image issues, and bullying.
Students found needing further assistance were offered “brief intervention”, a voluntary series of follow-up meetings with the prevention educators to check in and provide additional support and coping skills. These “briefs” are not formal counseling or professional therapy sessions. The prevention educators provide fact based research materials and strategies in dealing with stressors. Students taking advantage of the brief intervention will meet with prevention educators through October on campus during school hours. Those students needing more in depth support were referred to counselors for professional therapy through the school. Students requiring professional assistance will continue to work with our counselors on finding the appropriate resources. 19% of our freshmen class will participate in these “briefs”, and 3% of the class has been referred out for professional assistance. The majority of those referrals were for dual depression/anxiety related issues.
If any parent would like to discuss these findings in more depth, or want further information on the SBIRT program, please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In an effort to continue the growth of the Health and Wellness Program, Carroll High School has joined forces with the Montgomery County Education Service Center to provide invaluable resources for our student body in a variety of mediums. Health teacher Jason Ashworth and I are working together with the MCESC to expand Carroll's educational programming and intervention needs to provide a more complete holistic strategy to the wellbeing of our students. The Health and Wellness Program is more than a drug testing program. It continues to develop under the guidance of the Board of Limited Jurisdiction and principal Matt Sableski to be comprehensive, proactive, and consistent in its application and education. We are excited to add more programming this year in the way of more educational opportunities and a mental health screening for the entire freshman class.
As explained in the newest version of the student handbook, “Carroll High School has adopted an initiative of a comprehensive health and wellness program aimed at achieving greater awareness and assistance toward mental health and a drug and alcohol-free environment for our students on campus and in our community. The Carroll Health and Wellness Initiative intends to provide for the health and safety of all students. Based on the premise that our Catholic vocation is to serve the common good, Carroll incorporates research based educational opportunities/screenings and mandatory/random substance abuse testing in hopes of serving as a catalyst to a more fulfilling healthy lifestyle and a deterrent to the use of alcohol and/or illegal drugs.” The 2020-21 addition to our Initiative is SBIRT (Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment). SBIRT has been used with tremendous success during the protocols for those students that entered our positive testing matrix. I found the screening provided a valuable tool for identifying students needing assistance with major anxiety and mental health struggles. Often, these issues related to mental health have direct correlation to possible addictive tendencies and drug use. The earlier we can provide possible intervention and identify triggers with our students, we can be proactive in preventing possible drug and alcohol use. Approved by the board and Principal Sableski, every freshman student will be screened in the first semester. Screenings are completed by professional social workers provided by the MCESC. Information gathered will be used to direct parents and counselors with valuable information if identified through the researched based screening.
Mr. Ashworth has added to his curriculum the research based education programs Catch My Breath and Prime for Life. These programs are designed to specifically address vaping and substance abuse prevention. Every student at Carroll will complete these programs through health classes. In addition to the programming Mr. Ashworth is providing, MCESC is providing an optional ten-part program, Your Path, which is available to students recommended by parents, counselors, teachers, administration, or student self-recommendations. This program addresses any student that has been directly impacted by substance abuse or major trauma in their lives. At any point during the school year, a parent who would like their student screened (who are not automatically in the program) can simply make that request for screening by emailing me at email@example.com.
We are very excited about these new programs and our continued path forward of providing a comprehensive Health and Wellness Program for our students. MCESC allows Carroll to expand its resources and educational opportunities beyond what was possible when the program started. Prevention Programs Supervisor in the Social Emotional Learning Division for the MCESC Jodi Kulka shared with me her thoughts on the upcoming year. "We are excited to continue our partnership with Carroll for the 20-21 school year! Carroll is doing great things in the realm of prevention. They are a model for how developing strong community partnerships, implementing prevention supports, and continuous policy work can be instrumental in protecting the health of their students and community." As Carroll continues to strive for developing holistic programming for our students, we appreciate the work and collaboration of the whole community including parents, and organizations like the MCESC.