Dr. Merv is correct on the BHC’s but we need a firewall

Daugherty, Albury: Children’s increased access to mental health services a blessing Written by Mervin Daugherty and Jandy Albury 

A year ago, the Red Clay Consolidated School District was fortunate to be chosen as one of three districts statewide to receive additional assistance for our students in addressing their mental, emotional and behavioral needs.

Along with our district, the Behavioral Health Consultant program was being piloted in the Capital and Colonial school districts. This is the pilot referenced in Monday’s front page article in The News Journal titled “Behavioral health program at schools sets more ambitious goals in state rollout.”

Behavioral Health Consultants are licensed mental health professionals who provide a variety of services which include: suicide risk assessment, trauma and substance use screening, individual and family counseling, behavioral health consultation for school staff, and the ability to link youth to other services they need. This program is a proactive approach to identifying and addressing issues that can lead to youth acting out before they actually do.

Sounds wonderful Merv and Kilroy supports the program!

Middle school can be a difficult time in a child’s life. They are growing up and experiencing a variety of emotions and new challenges not faced in elementary school. They are more susceptible to peer pressure; issues like bullying and family conflict tend to increase.

I believe many of the underlying mental-health related concerns aren’t related to “middle school”, I believe other than direct diagnoses of a mental-health disorders, stress and depression are associated with family issues such a parent in jail, divorce, death of a parent or sibling, family income and so on! However, we must be thankful this program is offered at a young age.

Our BHC has been an outstanding resource for students. She has helped our children with a variety of issues: bullying, depression, ADHD, child trauma, and family issues.

Yep I agree! 

Our BHC also works closely with the families. While she says “the children are my heart,” she also feels equally as proud when she can help connect a family to services they didn’t know existed or would be able to access.

And passion is needed working with kids carrying so much emotional baggage. 

What has been particularly beneficial is that students can receive short-term counseling in school and receive referrals to other school-based services or to community providers for longer term treatment when needed.

And there it is, partnership with organization outside the school. whereas not requiring the school and teachers to go it alone!  

We were excited when Gov. Markell made it a priority at the beginning of the year to support 30 BHCs in the budget and ensure every middle-school student has access to this important service.

As a result of the state’s commitment to this goal, we will add another specialist to assist the other middle schools in our district. In a time when everyone is asked to do more with less, and services are consistently being cut, it is gratifying to know our state leaders understood that investing in this program was an investment in these children and our state’s future.

Now here is my concern! I am concern the BHC’s will end up being employees of the district where the districts get their noses in the work of the BHC’s rather than letting these professional have the latitude to do their jobs as trained! Also, local “school taxpayers” shouldn’t be on the hook to fund this program. Yes the BHC’s are valuable but we need not incorporate there positions within district position. It doesn’t appear this will happen but with Markell who knows! We need a firewall between the BHC’s and government to allow the BHC’s freedom to do their jobs without being micromanaged!

Now were back to this previous Kilroy post Delaware teachers are not responsible for dysfunctional familes Posted on August 26, 2013 by kilroysdelaware.

It obvious mental-health issues impact students ability to function in school and be successful. And let’s not kid ourselves, the are many kids coming from dysfunctional families where parenting skills are limited. BHC’s will have their hands full dealing with the effects (students behavior issues) but addressing the causes associated with a dysfunctional family may be a tall order! Some will view this outreach going to far into a student’s home which could in fact create legal concerns for parents in regards to neglect or abuse. BHC’s are prohibited just like teachers from turning a blind-eye of possible abuse issues. So for sure abuse and neglect will be reported as should be. 

The classroom teachers can at best assist BHC’s in behavior modification plans but at the end of the day the fact remains, the student’s mental health status impacts student achievement.  The new teacher evaluation system based on student achievement does not factor in student mental health behavior issues that has a negative impact on his or her academic performance! The bottom line is, were holding teachers accountable for the students mental health and issues related to dysfunctional family! Do we now hold BHC’s accountable for lack of academic process for students they treat?

There is a major blame game going on in education and teachers are the main target! Obviously the call for BHC’s is a result of teachers observations and concerns. And let’s not forget the mental health status of our teachers doing a stressful job at the same time Markell puts one in their backs with a wrongheaded evaluation system.

Merv, move the ball further and be more conscious of the mental health impact on teachers associated with an epidemic of student behavior issues going on in our schools. Yes it’s about the kids. But all working within are about the kids and teachers needs support not this witch-hunt driven by the likes of Rodel and the Wall Street ponzi scheme.       


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