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May Is Mental Health Awareness Month

on May 4, 2016 - 2:12pm
LAPS Dr. Kurt Steinhaus
LAPS News:
Los Alamos Public Schools and the community of Los Alamos have been mindful of Mental Health throughout the year. In noting the significance of May as national Mental Health Awareness Month, I would like to share some of our focused work for creating positive Mental Health throughout LAPS.
In July 2015, the School Board appointed a Mental Health Design Team and tasked them with preparing a report about the current status of mental health services, a gap analysis, and a set of recommendations for the preferred future of mental health programs in Los Alamos Public Schools.
The Team’s 600+ hours of work and outreach to over 2,000 Los Alamos students, teachers, and residents has driven a Healthy Schools and Community Initiative with tremendous conversation and collaboration among parents, educators, community leaders and our youth. The premise of the work is “A healthy community is not one without problems, a healthy community recognizes problems and mobilizes resources to intervene.”
There are many recommendations and initiatives under way to meet these critical needs. Full details of the report can be read at:
The LAPS School Board has accepted the challenge to lead a cultural shift towards creating a community of sound behavioral health for all LAPS students.
Beyond the Design Team’s work, LAPS students, staff and parents, along with community members throughout the district have initiated programs and outreach, including:
  • Student lead, community supported Reach Toward Not Away, suicide prevention program where over 900 Los Alamos High School students uploaded the ‘Friends Ask’ Mobile App
  • One mom meets a group of girls for lunch once a week at Los Alamos Middle School
  • Natural Helpers program from the primary grades through high school age students
  • Wellness week at the high school
  • Web Crew and Link Crew - a mentoring program of older students with younger ones at LAMS and LAHS
  • Anti Bullying clubs and activities
  • Expanded Lunch Buddies program
  • At Mountain Elementary School, children learned about emotional regulation by playing with cool down ice cubes; how to stand up for themselves when bullied, practicing the “Power stance” and every student can firmly and confidently tell someone to “Stop, leave me alone!”; how to make and keep friends; manage personal space, stranger danger and diversity lessons. They also held friendship groups, girls circle, and skills groups, participated in Anti-bullying activities, National Mix it up at Lunch Day, and Kindness counts.
  • Pinion Elementary was very busy with support groups for children needing focused support for loss, grief, divorce, anxiety and depression, the Principal leads a CARE team meeting to identify and plan for individual children with academic, behavioral or emotional needs. New this year is a Mindfulness course for all Pinon 6th graders on stress and thoughts, feelings and kindness while increasing focus and awareness.
  • Workshop for parents
  • Youth Mental Health First Aid courses for LAPS staff and community members
  • LAPS also works closely with the Juvenile Justice Board (JJAB) Resource Advocates who are case managers for students and families throughout our district.
The School Board recently adopted a new Strategic Plan. The first three focus areas are:
1. Student Well-Being
2. Student Learning
3. Teacher and Staff Excellence
The Student Well Being focus area demonstrates the Board’s commitment to continuing to create an emotionally grounded learning space for all our children.
Mental Health Month gives all of us a valuable opportunity to celebrate the tremendous strides the Los Alamos schools and community have made in promoting mental health and increasing awareness that effective services and support are available.