New tools for prevention and treatment 'Hot Topic' at annual MSSAA conference

MSSAA ‘Hot Topic’ resources are listed by age range for kids, even pre-school ages, to exercise better coping skills and knowledge.  Most resources listed are little or no cost and several may be accessed from home as well as in the classroom.

The Summer Institute for Massachusetts Secondary School Administrators (MSSAA) is an annual conference covering key issues faced by educators state-wide, with the membership including superintendents, principals, and program directors.  The membership selects a special area of interest each year to address.  The new MSSAA president, Dana Brown, said that the top area of interest identified by the membership this year is mental health and that new tools are wanted for prevention, and also for directing families to treatment.

During the conference, a session titled ‘Hot Topic’ invited discussion on Adolescent Mental Health: Coping & Prevention Strategies. In the discussion, interest was expressed for new resources and questions were raised about:

  • Stress management
  • We are doing a lot; are we doing enough?
  • Increasing adult comfort / knowledge
  • Providing better coping skills for kids
  • Networking for knowledge & resources
  • Is there an increase and, if so, why is there an increase in symptoms? (NOTE: Statistics for each year are compiled in the school nurse report, Essential School Health Services (www.neushi.org/resources.html)

Examples of new thinking as a result of the discussion included understanding the challenges were universal (not limited to certain schools), that some existing resources could be much better leveraged (ex. school nurses), that resources are becoming available to improve referral of kids with symptoms, and that actually prevent some symptoms are available for all kids to exercise, even on their own outside of class times.

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