The Edmond Sun

Education

June 12, 2012

Deer Creek Health and Wellness program receives a thumbs-up

EDMOND — Deer Creek’s School Health and Wellness program received high grades its first year in place.

“I would rate the program as very, very successful,” said James Rose, director of student services for the district and supervisor of the School Health and Wellness program.

“Originally the idea came to us because of the increase in the number of suicides in our area, not just students, but also other members of the families,” Rose said.

“We were able to meet the needs of several students who were suicidal,” Rose said, “and through intervention we were able to get them help.”

In an end of year update, Andrea Larabee, coordinator of the School Health and Wellness program, told Deer Creek School Board members Monday the office had received 140 referrals. Of these referrals, the School Health and Wellness Program made direct contact and provided consultation/recommendations to 118 students and families. Of the 140 referrals received, parents and or guardians were contacted and 118 gave permission for consultation with their child.

Individual/crisis counseling was provided to 88 students in the Deer Creek School District totaling 626 individual/crisis counseling sessions.

Of the 88 students seen, Larabee said 12 of those were identified as having suicidal thoughts and services were obtained for them.

In addition to students, seven school employees took advantage of receiving consultation on personal issues.

The district provided 23 support groups within the elementary and middle schools.

In the elementary schools 11 support groups were formed including friendship skills groups, and 12 support groups were formed at the middle school including groups dealing with friendship, stress management and grief.

Two evidence-based Prevention Programs were implemented and made available to all Deer Creek High School freshmen.

These two programs were Lifelines: Suicide prevention program and Safe Dates: An Adolescent Dating Abuse Prevention curriculum, Rose said.  

Three school psychologists, one psychology intern post-op through the University of Oklahoma Health Science Center, and master’s-level counselors working on internships were all available to work with students or the adults on staff needing help, Rose said.

Larabee supervises counseling the interns who come from the University of Central Oklahoma, Oklahoma State University, the University of Oklahoma or Southern Nazarene University.

Rose said there has been a lot of interest from the colleges, because the Deer Creek program is one of the few places where counselors are actually able to counsel students.

Dr. Steve Sternlof with the OU Medical Center is a licensed psychologist who contracts with the district to do supervision with the interns along with Larabee.

“This is a great opportunity for interns,” Rose said. “They are able to meet, discuss cases and counseling techniques and there are a lot of support and services for them to use. They get a school perspective and a counseling perspective.”

Rose said every case is triaged and a determination is made as to the level of the student’s needs.

“If an individual is clinically depressed we have the ability to make a referral to a community service,” Rose said. “Typically we do the legwork and help find a staff with a psychologist and psychiatrist.”

Rose emphasized that permission is obtained from parents or guardians for individuals, friends or group counseling.

“Occasionally we have a parent who declines, but it is rare,” Rose said. “Most parents welcome service during school. Data is available to counselors who have access to school records as well as information provided by the teachers.”

The numbers of students counseled in this first year were about what Rose said they expected while getting the program started.

“This is a continuing program and it does seem to be growing,” Rose said.

Wanting to expand, Rose said a grant for drug awareness has been completed and sent to the State Department of Education.

“We are wanting to hire someone half-time to help implement curriculum for drug awareness and the impact of drugs on health and the brain and how drugs impact a human being,” Rose said.

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