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Pinellas County School leaders to discuss expanded mental health plan for 2021-2022 school year

Pinellas County back to school information
Posted at 6:47 AM, Jul 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-27 08:00:48-04

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. — For the past three years, Pinellas County School leaders say they’ve implemented programs to ensure mental health and wellness for students.

This upcoming school year, there’s an even bigger focus with several new resources and an expanded plan to help.

Some of those components include:

  • Mental health and wellness training
  • Increase access to student services staff
  • Strengthen community partnerships
  • Suicide prevention
  • Substance Abuse Prevention/Intervention
  • Response to COVID-19
  • Screening and assessments of at-risk students
  • Expanding services for students with internalizing concerns like depression, anxiety, and phobias

School districts have seen a rise in the need for mental health and wellness services as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Leaders say they’re working to improve their process of identifying mental health issues and providing new training for students and teachers.

The district is also hiring more counselors, psychologists, and social workers to reduce the ratio of students to staff.

This year, Pinellas County Schools will continue to maintain a strong partnership centered around preventing school violence.

The district currently utilizes the Say Something Anonymous Reporting System which allows people to report acts of violence, risk of harm to self or others, and anything else concerning.

Middle and high schoolers have been trained by a team of prevention specialists to identify warning signs and how to report them.

Each school has a team assigned to address these tips, and so far the district has responded to more than 5,000 tips.

Two mental health counselors have been added this year to support these efforts.

Leaders will request approval of their Mental Health and Wellness plan at Tuesday’s school board meeting. It begins at 5 p.m.