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02 Sep

Officials say Family Service Agency, Council on Alcoholism & Drug Abuse services having a positive impact on risk factors

Students in the Santa Barbara Unified School District showed improvement in their emotional and behavioral health over the past year as a result of mental health services provided by the Family Service Agency and the Council on Alcoholism & Drug Abuse, according to district officials monitoring the progress.

The district had hired Erika Felix of the UC Santa Barbara Gevirtz Graduate School of Education to perform an external evaluation of the services.

According to the district, students who underwent counseling services showed a decline in suicidal thoughts afterward.

Those who received substance abuse counseling services also demonstrated “a reduction in the underlying emotional, social and behavioral risk factors associated with substance abuse, a significant decrease in relapse potential, and an increased readiness to change,” the district said.

Family Service Agency held 2,478 sessions in the past year for students and families in grades of seven through 12. CADA held another 795 sessions.

“The individual and group counseling services that were offered helped reduce clinical levels of depression,” Assistant Superintendent Frann Wageneck said. “Students were less likely to experience suicidal thoughts following their treatment.”

About 13 percent of high school students and 11 percent of junior high school students had seriously considered suicide in the past year, she added.

Superintendent Cary Matsuoka said the suicide rate nationally is about 10 percent to 12 percent of “our teens.”

Acknowledging “some challenges” during his three years on the job, he called the last academic year “a good year.”

“I don’t think we lost a student to suicide,” Matsuoka said.

“I have a quiet goal as a superintendent,” he added. “Can we please get through this year without losing a young person to a premature death?”

Matsuoka said the world has changed and so has education.

“We bear this burden of being mental health providers to our communities,” he explained. “That is not something that school districts took on 20 years ago. Today it is, and I am proud of our work, and we have to continue to invest in this space because our kids need it and our families need it.”

Wageneck said the district began tracking suicide attempts 2½ years ago and since then the rate has dropped 67 percent, with 22 attempts this past year from 64 the year before.

“Still 22 too many,” she said of the total.

Going forward, the district plans to coordinate academics with mental health services and increase efforts to educate students and their families that the programs and help exist.

— Noozhawk staff writer Joshua Molina can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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14 Aug

A Victoria man who was arrested as a teenager with an untreated mental illness avoided spending more time in a jail that his family says exasperated his symptoms and caused him to rack up more charges.

Tyler Shelton, 20, pleaded guilty Tuesday to burglary of a building.

In exchange, the district attorney’s office dismissed five counts of aggravated assault of a public servant and one count of assault of a public servant that remained against him.

Shelton will spend the next five years under the supervision of the probation department for the burglary of a building charge, and if he completes the term successfully, the charge can be dismissed.

“Good luck to you, sir,” Judge Eli Garza said to Shelton, who had been before him to resolve his cases at least eight times.

Shelton’s mother, Kristen Herrmann, waited nearby to take him to the probation department across the street.

“I think he’s just relieved to finally put this behind him and focus on his future,” she said Tuesday.

Shelton referred questions to his attorney, Eddie Wilkinson, who asked that the questions be emailed. Wilkinson did not respond by deadline Tuesday.

The Advocate also reached out to District Attorney Constance Filley Johnson by phone and email. She responded via email that the case was resolved in this way to hold Shelton accountable for his actions but be mindful of his needs at the time of the incident. Filley Johnson campaigned last year that she’d like to divert people with mental illness and addictions from the criminal justice system.

“We will always evaluate cases with a mental health component individually and continue to partner with other agencies in our community to best bridge the gap in available services. We recognize that law enforcement faces enormous challenges in these situations and are grateful to the men and women of the Victoria County Sheriff’s Office for their cooperation and support of the just resolution in this matter,” she wrote.

Herrmann came forward with her son’s story after the sheriff’s office issued a press release in September 2017 that he had assaulted jailers who had tried to take a shirt from him that he had fashioned into a noose.

She explained Shelton has bipolar I disorder, and the Victoria Advocate learned through interviews and open records requests that she and other family members were the ones who called the sheriff’s office about the building Shelton burglarized.

His family said Shelton was off his medication and thought the building belonged to him, but records showed mental health officers were not available to respond. He was taken to the jail rather than to treatment. His family said at the jail, he went without medication for even longer.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, people in mental health crises are more likely to encounter police than get medical help. This has led to 2 million people with mental illness being booked into the county jails every year. The majority are not violent.

Jessica Priest reports on the environment and Calhoun County for the Victoria Advocate. She may be reached at jpriest@vicad.com or 361-580-6521.

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30 Jul

Brainerd Superintendent Laine Larson announced Monday, July 29, Sourcewell awarded a $100,000 innovation grant to a collaborative group, including the school district, Central Lakes College and Essentia Health.

“We asked for a $100,000 grant for one year to hire someone on a part-time basis to provide an overview of what we are offering to our youth as far as mental health supports, what kind of programming we have for teachers and staff within our schools, what kind of curriculum and so on,” Larson said during Monday’s school board meeting.

With the grant approved, the new part-time employee will be hired through Essentia Health, Larson said, but will work with all three entities.

After the year is up, Larson said she hopes to be able to continue applying for the grant for up to three years but isn’t sure yet how that will play out.

“We’re hoping that we’re going to really be able to see some systemic work and once again a true community collaboration to address some of the needs that we have for our youth and to reduce that mental health stigma for them.”

The school district contracts with Northern Pines Mental Health Center for mental health services throughout the school year. Eight full-time mental health professionals are stationed at Forestview Middle School, and at least 10 at Brainerd High School. While the elementary schools do not have full-time mental health staff, a total of 37 mental health professionals come and go throughout all the schools in the district based on need.

In other business Monday, the board:

Approved new hires in the district: Angela Bennett, human resources director; Rena Bolt, parent educator at the Brainerd Learning Center; Sarah Emerson, art teacher at the Brainerd Learning Center; Michelle Feyder, parent educator at the Brainerd Learning Center; and Margaret Hillman, food service at Brainerd High School.

Accepted staff resignations: Lauren Martinson, speech language pathologist assistant at Garfield Elementary; Amanda Mattsen, KinderClub supervisor at Nisswa Elementary; Ebony Riley, special education paraprofessional at Lincoln Education Center; Jennifer Rushin, adult services coordinator at community education; and Jennifer Skorich, special education paraprofessional at Forestview Middle School.

Approved a $166,030 change event for the new Baxter Elementary School. This extra cost — which takes up 16% of the project’s contingency budget — is mostly for a firewall in the school, which is a barrier required in buildings of a certain size to prevent the spread of fire in the building. The change is coming after back and forth conversations with the state officials. Contractors believe the project will still track on budget with the extra cost.

Approved a contract with Dow Acoustics Inc. for ceilings and acoustical treatment in the performing arts center at Brainerd High School. This bid of $1.8 million was not included in the list of contractors awarded bids earlier this month, as negotiations were ongoing. With this addition, the project is tracking 7% under budget.

Approved a revised petition and waiver agreement with the city of Baxter for the Mapleton Road, Jasperwood Drive and Knollwood Drive project with an increased cost due to higher bids than estimated. The roughly $2.5 million project will restructure and recontour nearby adjoining thoroughfares to account for increased traffic with the Baxter Elementary project. The school district’s portion of the project increased $336,853, while the city’s portion increased to $348,387. This extra cost still keeps the project within budget.

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25 Jul

BARABOO, Wis. (WMTV) — The Baraboo School District has received a mental health services grant of over $70,000.00 to increase mental health resources for students, their families, as well as teachers in the district.

After the district applied but did not receive the DPI grant last year, the district applied again in the spring, receiving $70,743.00. District employees said mental health issues in students, as well as their willingness to discuss issues pertaining to mental health, are increasing.

“Our percentage of students that require additional interventions is significantly high, and I think it’s not just our district,” said Michele Yates-Wickus, Director of Student Services for the district.

The grant will be used to implement a mental health screening K-9, in the hopes of having early intervention with students to identify symptoms and provide them with resources, according to school social worker with the district Taylor Williams.

“We’re looking at some social emotional learning curriculum and content to really focus on coping skills, resiliency, building up those positive strategies with our youth,” Williams said.

She also said the district will be working with other agencies to increase mental health literacy, and to help families through the process of finding mental health resources.

“It’s just having the ability to be able to help and support those students to build up their social and emotional well-being, and so they can attend school, and we have academic progress, and we don’t have absenteeism,” said Yates-Wickus.

Absenteeism has been an issue in the district in recent years, said Yates-Wickus and Williams.

“One of the most obvious data points for us was looking at our chronic absenteeism rates, which in the last four years, we’ve seen both district-wide and at the high school have doubled,” Williams said. “And a lot of that is school refusal, we have students who are not wanting to come to school, and quite a bit of that tends to be mental health based.”

Williams said students could be facing mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, or difficulty in forming relationships.

Both Yates-Wickus and Williams said they’re grateful for the grant money and for what it will accomplish.

“I’m really grateful that the state of Wisconsin has really focused and worked on providing these grants to school districts, because it is really needed for districts,” said Yates-Wickus.

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19 Jul

Washington, D.C.-based Jos. A Magnus Distillery is best known for its whiskey. We’ve reviewed most of its offerings (see here and here), and even helped pick a private barrel for our friends at Bourbon Pursuit. But like most craft distilleries, there’s almost always a few clear spirits in the portfolio. We recently received samples of Magnus’s gins, both the standard Vigilant District Dry and the Vigilant Navy Strength. Both are the creation of Magnus distiller Nicole Hassoun, and each is made from a base distillate of 100% corn although the particular botanicals and proof differ in each. Let’s dig in!

Joseph Magnus Vigilant District Dry Gin– This gin is steeped in and distilled with a pretty unique blend of botanicals including sesame, sumac, tarragon, marionberry, and cubeb (a tropical shrub also used to flavor cigarettes). From those ingredients, it’s no wonder the nose shows plenty of berry and herbs. It’s a bit weird but intriguing, like savory blackberry pie filling with a piney crust. On the palate, more classic citrus and juniper notes are initially noticeable, alongside a gently warming heat. But that changes on the mid-palate when a bit of Italian seasoning and sweet haliva arrive. Somehow these things work together, creating a gin that is borderline amari. Tonic changes the profile considerably, elevating the grapefruit and bergamot orange in the recipe and subduing some of the more unique elements. For full effect, I’d drink this in a martini. 84 proof. A- / $32

Joseph Magnus Vigilant Navy Strength Gin – Instead of just kicking up the proof for the Navy Strength offering, Magnus changed the recipe entirely with an equally unique combination of botanicals including harissa, figs, hops, and hibiscus. Like the District Dry, the juniper is somewhat hard to find on the nose. Instead, there’s raisin, licorice, wildflowers and fresh lemon zest. Only after some digging does a bit of pine forest emerge, but it’s sweet and subdued. While the nose is good, the palate is simply remarkable. I never knew a gin could be rich in texture, but this is definitely a rich gin with a big, creamy body full of candied lemon peel, tropical fruits, tangy red pepper, and Fig Newtons. The juniper, which was hand foraged in Oregon, is beautifully balanced with no bite but plenty of sappy, earthy sweetness. The finish lingers like a fine whisky with notes of black licorice and shortbread cookies. It almost seems a shame to put this in a cocktail, but at this proof, it can easily stand up in one. 114 proof. A / $56


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Joseph Magnus Vigilant Navy Strength Gin


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17 Jul

ALTOONA, Wis. (WEAU) – The Altoona School District has been awarded another mental health grant, after being awarded a similar grant in 2018.

The school district has been awarded $75,000 in funding for each of the 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 school years to fund their mental health services.

According to the Altoona School District, one in six students is receiving such services and they are expecting the number to grow.

Alan McCutcheon, Student Services Director, says it will increase their current coordinator from ten hours each week, to around 30 hours per week.

Their current Mental Health Coordinator was hired last September after Altoona received a $3.25 million state mental health grant.

Altoona says they have seen a significant decrease in referral time for school based therapists as well as discipline referrals have also decreased significantly.

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14 Jul

His climb prompted a tremendous police response. Police crisis teams from Bethlehem and Allentown, urban search and rescues and other emergency crews climbed the furnaces, talking to Wallace from a platform about 25 feet below him and trying to persuade him to follow them to safety. A drone buzzed around the structure, giving authorities a view of Wallace’s actions and behavior from his roughly 300-foot high perch, where he spent hours under the scorching sun, without food or water, in temperatures that eached the high 80s.

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12 Jul


ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. – Next school year, students in St. Johns County can count on the help of more professionals trained in mental health.

The school district said it’s going to use $135,000 is state dollars to hire two psychologists and two behavior technicians.

For mom Jen Ross, who has two school-aged boys, it was welcome news.

“The fact that the awareness is there is really great because it needs to happen,” said Ross.

The new hires will bring the total number of school psychologists to 20 and the total number of school behavior technicians to six. 

Together, they’ll cover all 40 schools in St. Johns County.

The plan also addresses kids as young as those in elementary school. For instance, the district will introduce curricula in English and language arts classes that aim to help students manage their emotions and learn interpersonal skills. 

Timothy Ross, 11, said this plan is something kids his age can benefit from.

“I think that kids who need help should be able to get the help they need,” he said.

The district also plans to implement a youth suicide prevention project. 

Leaders also plan on having on-site mental health clinics for 30-minute sessions two hours per week at each school.

Ross believes having access to a mental health professional early on is crucial.

“I think that just like with any other, our physical health, that prevention piece, so getting in there early for prevention is really key,” said Ross.

MORE: Duval and St. Johns County school employees get mental health crisis training | Mental health support a top concern for Duval County

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08 Jul

Five integrated teams are being set up in B.C. school districts to give students easier access to mental health supports.

The teams are to link health care and school resources to young people and family members, so they can get treatment “without having to tell their story over and over,” Mental Health and Addictions Minister Judy Darcy said Monday. The school district program is to be developed over the next two years, and the Maple Ridge pilot is to be in operation by December.

Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows school district will be the first pilot of the project, to deal with a sharp rise in identified mental health and addiction issues among children.

The province estimates there are currently 84,000 children aged four to 17 experiencing mental health disorders, and B.C. has seen an 86 per cent increase in hospitalizations of people under 25 for mental disorders between 2009 and 2017.

School districts are also beginning to teach mental health literacy in secondary schools, to help young people recognize issues before they become critical. The district teams will be involved in education as well as case work, and school districts have budgeted for extra training for teachers and counsellors.

“We know that resolving small issues before they become big ones helps to avoid needless suffering, and also costlier solutions down the road, Darcy said. “We also know that addressing trauma early on can make a life-long difference.”

The province is also expanding its Foundry youth centre network, which Darcy said is a “one-stop shop” for youth health resources. New Foundry centres are being established in Terrace, Richmond and Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows, in addition to existing facilities in Kelowna, Campbell River, Prince George, Abbotsford, Penticton, Victoria and Vancouver.

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27 Jun

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – The Board of Supervisors recently agreed to create 24/7 crisis stabilization centers and bolster clinical resources and other tools to help those dealing with mental illness and addiction.

District Attorney Summer Stephan said the board’s action is a leap forward, advancing some of the concrete recommendations in the DA’s Blueprint for Mental Health Reform, which was released earlier this year.
“These next steps represent the start of a sea change in the way we approach this issue and will help keep people who are facing a mental health crisis from falling through the cracks,” said DA Stephan. “Mental health urgent care centers can provide a safe, effective and compassionate alternative to jail or a crowded emergency room for those in crisis, along with an after-care system that will continue to stabilize and support those individuals. It’s a ‘win-win’ when we can provide treatment and keep the community safe at the same time.”

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