Blount County Schools continuing task force to proactively address mental health

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MARYVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – Back to school marks the start of a new school year, for Blount County students Pre-K to 12th grade, that means resources for mental health services are immediately available.

Statewide, school districts are working to ensure their students are given resources and tools to help with emotional and mental wellness.

Last school year, for instance, three students at Blount County Elementary schools were put on suicide watch. Mental health needs are not exclusive to one school district, but many are working to implement proactive solutions for students.

Blount County Schools Mental Health Task Force was created last year, bringing together 15 school counselors, psychiatrists, teachers, administrators, and community leaders. All tasked with finding partnerships and tools for teachers to best help students in all grade levels.

“Mental health issues are not just concerns we see with our teenagers, we see those concerns with our babies,” said Amanda Vance, Supervisor of Special Education and a task force member.

Vance said Blount County is 1 in 20 districts statewide with a partnership with Cherokee Health. Therapeutic services are also provided, with parent permission, for students through the Helen Ross McNabb Center.

Those partnerships with community organizations focused on mental health wellness, Vance says, the task force is hoping to grow.

“We have a proactive approach to address student needs that we anticipated we would have, or that we currently have,” said Vance.

Students who want to use or get more information on the task force resources can ask a teacher, school counselor, or staff members who can refer students to counselors.

Parents can find more information on available resources online.

National Suicide Hotline

The National Suicide Hotline is 1-800-273-8255.

We can all help prevent suicide. The Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals.

WATE 6 On Your Side is your official back to school station. School Safety is a top priority for parents … and it is for WATE, too.

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