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Mental health resources available for CCS students and employees

By JASON GRIFFIN/ Chilton County Schools Superintendent

Mental health concerns have always been an issue for students and for most of us as we were in school we were aware that anyone who needed to “talk to the counselor” could go and see the school counselor.

That is still the case, but as mental health concerns have increased over the years, additional resources have been needed. School counselors, administrators or teachers would identify students who may have needed additional counseling for school issues, home issues or both, but were limited as to the options they had to offer the student.  Over the last three years, Chilton County Schools has partnered with Central Alabama Wellness, formerly known as Chilton-Shelby Mental Health. This partnership has been beneficial for all stakeholders, and we appreciate that entity for their diligence in providing assistance for our students. However, even before the COVID health crisis began in March 2020, we began to see an increasing number of students who needed mental health supports and began to consider options.

When COVID-19 hit and students and faculty/staff were engaged in remote learning over the last 18 months, the number of mental health concerns increased for a variety of reasons, including isolation, stress and the craziness caused by the pandemic. As students and employees returned to the classrooms this fall, we began to see the clear need for additional mental health resources for not only our students, but also our employees.  With the assistance of federal COVID funding, Chilton County Schools has been able to focus on social/emotional supports for our students and employees. One of the areas of focus for the COVID funding is mental health and using that funding, we have been able to partner with another Chilton County group, The Wellness Group, to offer a variety of mental health resources for our students and employees.

I would like to point out that Chilton County Schools has worked with the Wellness Group for many years as well. I’m excited about all the resources, but I’m particularly excited about the direct referral program that allows the schools to contact parent/guardians of students and share the schools concerns about behavior and/or academics and provide the counseling options of the Wellness Group free of charge for the family. The parent/guardian is given this an option, and they are able to decide if this is right for their student and/or family. In addition, school employees can contact the Wellness Group directly and utilize the counseling services free of charge with no questions asked regardless of the issues they are dealing with. As a school system, this is a valuable resource to have available for our community.   Also, the Wellness Group offers parenting classes, small and large group discussion/presentations along with other resources.

The COVID funds are being utilized to help all our stakeholders.  With our long-standing partnership with Central Alabama Wellness and the Wellness Group, Chilton County Schools is providing mental health resources for our students and employees in an effort to make everyone’s lives better!