Westlake City Schools shine light on mental health efforts
In October, we recognize World Mental Health Day. This day is meant to raise awareness of the importance of mental health issues around the world and to mobilize efforts in support of mental health.
We’re so proud of our Westlake City School students and the work they do in class and in our community. We sometimes forget the importance of mental health and how that can have an effect on the student's growth and education.
We are also proud of the openness with which people are now discussing these issues. It wasn’t that long ago that such topics were considered taboo. We are learning more and more about mental health, both how to recognize certain issues, and how to help those who are looking to improve this aspect of their health.
At Westlake City Schools, we take the mental health of our students and staff very seriously, and we understand the importance of continuing to discuss how we can support these improvement efforts in ourselves and our peers.
In recent years, in response to the increasing social-emotional needs, the district has added mental health support services in each building through additional access to professionally trained counselors, specializing in mental health. The intent of these additional services is to improve conditions that ensure a healthy learning environment for students, staff and families.
At Westlake High School, Lee Burneson Middle School and Dover Intermediate School, we host a clinical counselor from Bellefaire JCB to provide consultation and preventative services for our students. At Westlake Elementary School, the district has added a contracted social worker. In addition to the school counselors, these services will provide additional levels of support to aid students in addressing their mental health, appropriate peer interactions and overall healthy functioning, both in individual and/or group settings.
As we continue with a successful 2021-2022 school year, we must not forget the toll the last two years have had on students of all ages, having to transition from in-school learning to virtual learning and back to the classroom in a short period of time. Along with the usual stresses that come with going to school and growing into adults, the added anxiety associated with the pandemic, illness and loss has only made the focus on our students’ emotional well-being even more important.
Each of our schools has an array of counseling services that are centered on bettering the well-being of our students. However, we understand we are not in this fight alone. The district provides resources and opportunities for families to get involved as well. Connections with counselors, local services and resources covering topics from “behavior impacts from COVID-19 onto children” to “what to do if you are recognizing severe behavioral changes in your child” are all available to every family of Westlake City Schools.
We hope recognizing World Mental Health Day helps families talk about the issues that might be troubling their students. An open mind and an open heart can go a long way, especially in times like these. We want all our students to have the confidence, preparation and support available to them so they may be a positive influence on their peers, their families and our community.
Dr. Scott Goggin is the superintendent of Westlake City Schools. He can be reached by email at email@example.com.