Episode 74

Mental health in the school setting

November 21, 2017 | Issues Facing Schools Today
Guest:CJ Soliday

In today’s episode of We Love Schools, host Carole Dorn-Bell talks with CJ Soliday, a Behavioral Health Specialist of the Delaware Area Career Center. Dorn-Bell recently heard Soliday speak about her role with the DACC and how she handles mental health in the school setting.

When explaining her role of addressing mental health issues in the school setting, Soliday explains that it can be varied. When it comes to students who have already been identified as having mental health issues, Soliday reaches out to their outside mental health provider to get a better of how she can help them through each day.

“If something comes up, I’m able to step in and help them go through their coping skill sets,” Soliday says.

Another part of her job is working with students with suicidal behavior, which is more of an urgent care situation. She is able to do a suicide assessment with students rather than sending them to an emergency room, which can be a pretty scary experience.

Finally, she keeps an eye out for students who may be struggling. She can help them identify what the issue may be and connect them with help.

Dorn-Bell mentions a New York Times article about how more American teenagers are suffering from severe anxiety now more than ever, and she mentions that a role like Soliday’s is more important now than ever before.

Soliday explains that her role was created because counselors were becoming overworked, and a number of students were getting into trouble due to mental health issues.

Soliday works to address the symptoms that cause a lot of anger in young men especially.

“We deal with keeping kids in school by reducing the symptoms of their mental health,” Soliday explains.

She explains that girls tend to go more inward, they retreat. However with boys, it’s not as socially acceptable to retreat, so their depression sometimes can be expressed as anger. But she notes that it’s important to have someone who’s trained in mental health to be there to assess every situation.

She says seeing less fights, higher attendance, and less anger are a few of the ways she’s able to monitor success in the school.

Another role that Soliday plays is training teachers to help them understand mental health in the school setting. Soliday believes this is the direction that schools are heading.

“I believe it’s the direction that schools are headed,” Soliday says. “There is a mental health person in the majority of schools.”

She says she doesn’t know of any other schools that have the alternative to expulsion program as the DACC does, and she thinks it’s a huge piece of their success in the goal of keeping kids in school.

“In the 2.5 years of doing this, we’ve had one student who did not take advantage of the program, and we’ve had one student who broke the contract,” Soliday says.

She says that building relationships with parents and families as well has been very helpful.

Soliday says she’s happy to answer questions about their program, so please feel free to reach out to her with any questions about mental health in the school setting at solidayc@delawareareacc.org or 740-201-2262.

Got a question or topic you’d like covered in an upcoming podcast? Email us at info@weloveschoolspodcast.com

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