It's no secret that there is a teenage mental health crisis - and that was before the pandemic.  The resulting year and a half of altered school experiences and forced social distancing have only made the matter worse.

Looking to be proactive, the Superior School Board has voted to approve forwarding changes to the policies that are in place for how administrators, teachers, and staff at the schools approach mental health issues. The board approved moving the policy forward for a second required reading.

So what are those changes?  They can be best summed up by finding ways to be offensive rather than defensive.  Superior School District Social Worker Jane Larson explains:

"I felt like we were putting out fires, we were reactive and not proactive in what we need to be to make sure that everybody is safe and secure as they can be."

Superior School District Administrator Amy Starzecki concurs:

"I think every year as an administrator I've dealt with the death of a student by suicide.  This is, to me, the most important work we should be doing as a school district.  This is literally life and death. We do not have enough mental health workers in our schools to address the social emotional behavior needs of our students in all our buildings, and that’s the reality."

An article in the Superior Telegram [paywall] outlines the changes.  Staff will be better and properly educated on how to look for potential warning signs, "what to look for, how to ask for help, and who to ask for help".

Superior High School - Superior School District in Superior, WI
Nick Cooper - TSM Duluth

The policy as outlined by the Superior School Board also puts a focus on being consistent.  The district is comprised of multiple buildings that have their own unique sets of students, staff, and challenges; however, the way that mental health is handled need to be the same across the board.

While the draft of the policy changes provides an "overview", it would be a living-document in that reviews and changes would be ongoing.  "The team will continue to meet and work on logistics such as identifying who would be in support positions".

Superior Middle School - Superior School District in Superior, WI
Nick Cooper - TSM Duluth

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