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Loudoun parents working with legislators on mental health in schools

The Virginia Congress of Parents and Teachers passed a resolution incorporating Return to Learn recommendations drawn up by the Loudoun Educational Alliance of Parents over the weekend. The resolution is being presented to legislators in Richmond this week.

The resolution, called the safety net resolution, was adopted by the Virginia PTA, a volunteer child advocacy association, at its annual conference over the weekend. It was carried forward by the Hunt District PTA and by members of local PTA's. Under current legislation, a "Safety Net Meeting" to help students with mental health difficulties return to learning, is included in school guidelines. The new resolution seeks to make the meeting a requirement as opposed to an option.

The resolution was drafted after families sharing experiences felt too many school administrators seem to believe depression is not a medical condition, according to Stephanie Eskins Gleason, LEAP delegate for Dominion High School.

The resolution was passed unanimously by the Virginia PTA meeting in Richmond on Jan. 27 and Jan.28. This means it will be on the agenda of the PTA lobbying department, which is meeting with legislators from across the state.

“Other groups will also be lobbying, where the Virginia PTA lead, others follow,” Eskins Gleason said.

The resolution highlights some of the biggest problems experienced by children recovering and transitioning from mental illness and how they are “exacerbated by disconnects between school personnel, licensed mental practitioners, district school administrators and the students' parents or legal guardians.”

The document detailing the resolution states “every effort should be made to apply recommendations from a student's licensed mental health practitioner be that a psychiatrist or a psychologist.” It goes on to say that parents have reported that recommendations are not consistently considered when interventions are developed at the classroom, school or district level. Many states require school districts to adopt policies and training related to preventing and responding to episodes that indicate mental illness or suicidal behavior. According to the resolution, Virginia schools are not currently required to provide consistent training or track who attends it.

The document notes that the Virginia PTA is supporting legislation that would require school divisions to have policies that grant students diagnosed with mental illness a “Safety Net Meeting” at the parent's or student's request. The meeting would include school personnel, parents or legal guardians, the student (if appropriate) and the student’s licensed mental health provider.

The resolution also encourages school districts and boards to develop “clear, concise, and consistent policies that will serve as a baseline towards improvements in service levels and transition consistencies.” Quantifiable and qualifiable measures should be used and support given for the continued education of school personnel as they adapt to changing mental health trends.

The resolution includes facts and figures surrounding suicide and the youth of Virginia. Suicide is the second leading cause of death in the 15-34 age bracket (after unintentional injury) and the third leading cause of death in the 10-14 age bracket. Virginia has a suicide rate of 12.65 per 100,000 population, and three times as many people die from suicide as from homicide in Virginia. For every suicide death, there are between 25–100 suicide attempts.

"I think the resolution is a practical common sense approach and it doesn't cost anything," Eskins Gleason said.


Take a look at the free resources Fairfax/Falls Church (and others) use to educate people about suicide. In 30 minutes anyone can get free training that “several empirical studies have shown result in statistically significant and sustainable changes in user’s attitudes, skills, and behaviors” at https://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/community-services-board/training

Also take a look at what we have

The information is out there. If other counties can provide free training through the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services, can we?

How is this a “money grab” and by whom?

I agree..common sense to foster appropriate communication between schools, parents and the mental health professionals.

Money grab-101

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