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Enhancing our Health and Wellness Initiative for the 2020-21 Academic Year

September 03, 2020
By Greg Derus, Assistant Principal
Carroll Health and Wellness Initiative for Mental and Physical Needs

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.

Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT)
Image Courtesy U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

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 gderus@carrollhs.org.

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.

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