May 17, 2023

Embracing Technology, Collaboration to Build Effective Mental Health Support Systems in Schools

Tracy Clements
An illustration of a person at their laptop with a school house in the background

GoGuardian organized a panel discussion on mental health in schools for a webinar. Led by Tracy Clements, a licensed professional counselor (LPC), former director of counseling services at Neosho School District in Missouri, and now student safety subject matter expert for GoGuardian, the group shared its insights on effective techniques to help prevent threats, self-harm, and violence in schools.

Panelists included Dr. Holly Wilcox, professor at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health; Rebecca Sears, Assistant Superintendent at Gravette School District; and Kelly Williams, LPC- Licensed Professional Counselor in Neosho, Missouri. The discussion highlighted the importance of taking a multifaceted approach to mental health support and engaging all stakeholders in developing effective solutions. Here are a few takeaways:

  1. It takes a team

One of the key points from the panel discussion was the importance of utilizing a team approach to build a mental health support system. The panelists emphasized the need to engage all stakeholders, including students, caregivers, administrators, teachers, and community members, in developing relevant supports unique to the needs of each school district. By working together, schools can build more effective support systems that address mental health concerns and enable students to perform well academically as well.

  1. Education is everything

The panelists also emphasized the importance of providing education related to mental health. Doing so helps reduce the stigma associated with mental health treatment and empowers students to seek help when necessary. In addition, the panelists discussed the importance of utilizing technology-based resources to build mental health support systems. Technology can provide resources, programs, and curricula to assist schools in developing and maintaining mental health supports. Products such as GoGuardian Beacon can be used to identify concerns early and enable staff to provide interventions.

  1. Increasing capacity

Kelly Williams, a licensed professional counselor working with three different school districts, discussed the importance of assisting school staff in increasing capacity and reducing barriers to mental health treatment. She highlighted the realities of working in a system where demand far exceeds resources, which underscores the importance of prevention and early identification in order to more effectively utilize limited resources.

  1. Approaching mental health from all angles

The panelists also discussed the importance of taking a multifaceted approach to mental health support. Effective mental health support systems include identification, prevention, and intervention strategies. Each system is unique, so it’s important to clearly identify needs, resources, and challenges. There is no need to reinvent the wheel; schools can look to existing systems and resources.

  1. Use tech to your advantage 

Finally, the panelists spoke about the importance of embracing novel solutions and engaging technology to help mental health support systems be more effective. Technology can provide new ways of identifying concerns, enable families to participate in treatment, and reduce gaps in communication.

By taking note of these five important aspects, schools can build more effective mental health support systems that address the unique needs of their students. As mental health concerns also underlie academic performance, it’s vital the two be seen as important parts of a whole.

Check out the full webinar for even more on how to help prevent threats, self-harm, and violence in schools.