The Edmond Sun

June 11, 2013

Deer Creek says wellness program successful

Patty Miller
The Edmond Sun

EDMOND — Deer Creek Public School District’s school Health and Wellness program completed its second year at the end of the 2012-13 school term.

Andrea Larabee, Ph.D. postdoctoral fellow and School Health and Wellness Program coordinator for the district, reported to board members Monday the number of students, parents and staff members using the program has almost doubled since its inception in 2011.

Larabee said the Deer Creek School Health and Wellness Program promotes the overall health and well-being in the Deer Creek School District by providing the following services:

• Counseling — individual short-term counseling for students, families and school personnel can occur during or after school hours.

• Student Support Groups — these groups to address (grief, anger, friendship/social skills).

• Consultation — to provide staff, parents and students information, skills and assistance with personal, social, behavioral and academic development.

• Crisis counseling and consultation — provided to individuals who need immediate mental health services.

• Psychoeducational/

prevention programs — evidence-based prevention programs.

• Referrals to outside resources — appropriate referrals to a wide range of community resources.

Larabee said out of the 176 referrals received, 146 families were helped compared to 140 and 118 during the 2011-12 school year. She added 124 students were helped compared to 88 during the 2011-12 school year and 978 individual/crisis counseling sessions were provided compared to 626 in 2011-12.

Twenty-three students were identified during 2012-13 as having suicidal thoughts compared to 12 students the prior year.

Four prevention programs are in place compared to two during 2011-12.

One support group is provided for Deer Creek Intermediate School.

Board President Danny Barnes told Larabee, “The progress is permeating through our schools. It is an amazing thing that you are doing. We are lucky and glad to have you here.”

Barnes added the more students that can develop a connection to the school, the more successful the students will be and this is yet another way to help the students feel connected.  

“We can’t put a price on a student’s life,” board member Jacob Mayes said.

The program is in addition to school counselors who still assist students with concerns, said Lenis DeRieux, executive director of Human Resources & Communications.

“This is a partnership with the OU Health and Science Center,” DeRieux said. “For $74,000 a year we receive the services of a Licensed Counseling Psychologist (Dr. Larabee), an intern, a post doctorate intern, supervision by Dr. Steve Sternlof, up to a dozen master’s level interns and eight bachelor’s-level psychology students.”

The comprehensive program included TeenScreen, which is a nationally recognized program developed to identify risk factors associated with suicide, depression, anxiety and substance abuse.  

It also included Lifelines: Suicide Prevention Program, an evidenced-based prevention program designed to educate students on the facts about suicide. “According to the pre/post test results, lifelines significantly increased Deer Creek High School freshmen’s knowledge about suicide and suicide prevention as well as significantly improved students’ attitudes towards suicide intervention and help-seeking behaviors,” Larabee said. “This program documented 34 students reported having or knowing someone who has suicidal thoughts. Students identified as having suicidal thoughts were immediately connected with a counselor.”

Other programs include:

• Safe Dates: An Adolescent Dating Abuse Prevention Curriculum — an evidenced-based prevention program designed to help students recognize the difference between healthy and unhealthy relationships.

• Crisis Response Team — The School Health and Wellness Program developed a crisis response plan designed to help schools effectively and immediately respond to the needs of the community when there has been a tragic death of a student or staff member.

• University of Central Oklahoma undergraduate students — Undergraduates working with the School Health and Wellness Program have been assisting school counselors throughout the district. For instance, multiple undergrads have helped Jinni Fields meet individually with each Deer Creek High School freshman to explore and identify educational goals.

• Workshops for staff — Provided three staff development workshops: 1) “Developing a Healthy School Environment.” 2) “Helping Our Kids Cope: What Can You Do?” 3) “Eating Disorders and Self Harm: What Can Schools Do?” and a school wellness program website.