- Gardendale Elementary School
JEFCOED Launches Expanded Mental Health Services
Birmingham, AL - The Jefferson County School District is taking an aggressive proactive approach when it comes to helping students deal with mental health issues.
“Making sure our students have access to adequate mental health services is something that is a priority for our district,” said Scott Mohon, Director of Assessment, Accountability, and Student Support. “In order for our students to be successful in the classroom, we have to make sure their social and emotional needs are being met. There is no way around this issue other than to address it head-on.”
Within the last year, the district has hired a mental health director to coordinate and expand mental health services. This position was created to ensure that all students in the Jefferson County School System are provided with the social and emotional support necessary for them to be academically successful.
“Our goal is that no child falls through the cracks. Making sure that all students at least have access to services will go a long way in meeting that goal,” said Dr. Jeffrey Moore, Mental Health Services Director. “Our job is to eliminate barriers to student success.”
Another part of JEFCOED’s approach was to launch the CARES team (Comprehensive Assistance Resources Education and Support). The increased staffing means expanded services for students.
Licensed Clinical Social Workers, collectively known as the CARES Team, serve students throughout the district. This includes going into all classrooms to speak with students, as well as, forming small groups to help those dealing with common mental issues like anxiety and depression.
If a situation calls for individualized care, CARES Specialists can provide more intensive and structured support. CARES Specialists also work to connect students and families with outside agencies for additional support.
More recently, the district has expanded its partnership with JBS Mental Health to ensure that all schools in the district have access to mental health services. Through this expanded partnership, licensed therapists are available for individual and group therapy, and case managers serve as liaisons between the school, families, and community agencies in the coordination of mental health services and support for students.