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District is mindful of mental health

The district has many untapped resources available for supporting students with mental health issues.

Counselors are available for advising students on mental health in houses such as Pine

Megan Phillips

Counselors are available for advising students on mental health in houses such as Pine

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Students want to talk about mental health. At the end of last year, several students in Lara Etnier’s English 10X class expressed this in their semester reflections. In their reflections, they suggested skipping the unit on organic eating and replacing it with a mental health unit. Etnier was very supportive of this. “When the learner is ready, the teacher presents it. That guides everything in my teaching,” she said.

The unit is still standards-based, but addresses what students want to read about, Etnier explained. Students had the opportunity to choose which book they wanted to read and afterward presented to each other on what they had learned. In addition to the presentations, Etnier also made sure she informed students about what mental health resources are available to them because she found that many of her students did not know.

In a poll, her English 10X students were asked if they had ever used a mental health resource inside or outside of school. Some of their answers reflected a problem: that some students do not know what resources are available. One student said, “No, I didn’t even know half of them existed.” Another said, “I’m not really aware of which ones there are besides the counselors.”

Besides the guidance counselors, there are many other mental resources for students. One of these resources is Amanda Burns, a school psychologist, who is available at school every Friday as a consultant for questions. She does not directly work with students according to Neeley Hagen, one of the guidance counselors. Jason Rippentrop, however, does directly work with students. A Carver County therapist, he is at CNHS every Monday or Tuesday for students who are unable to see a therapist outside of school, either because of financial or scheduling issues.

CNHS also has a partnership with Prairie Care, a mental health service located in Chaska. According to Samantha Lundgren, a Family School Coordinator who works part-time at Prairie Care and part-time at CNHS, Prairie Care offers a range of services for adolescents. These include outpatient therapy, group therapy, partial hospitalization, and inpatient hospitalization programs.

If students feel they would benefit from the use of any of these services, they should talk with their counselor. The counselors act as the gateway to the other resources that are there to support students and are available to answer any questions students may have. Some students don’t perceive the counselors as such, however. Etnier expressed this when talking about conversations she has had with some of her students.

“When I say to some kids, ‘Can I help you go to your counselor?’ They say ‘I already know where I’m going for registration.’ They’ve already lost the idea that the counselor is there to help them with their mental health,” she said.  

The first step to getting help is to tell someone. If a student expresses concern about their mental health to either their counselor or a parent or guardian, then they will have the chance to see firsthand the amount of mental health resources CNHS has.

In the survey of English 10X students, one student described this, “After this unit I decided to tell my parents about my depression and anxiety, and I have since gotten help.”

District 112 values the mental health of its students and wants resources to be easily accessible.“Mental health is a priority in our district. The district is currently working on ways to expand the continuum of mental health services available to students,” Lundgren said.

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District is mindful of mental health