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What training is currently provided to staff so they may recognize possible mental health issues, such as depression, affecting students? Is such training mandatory? Is it provided annually? Are there best practices that could be replicated in MCPS? What would be the costs associated with increasing such training?

Question#: 42

BUDGET PAGE REFERENCE: 5-59

ANSWER:

Currently, there is ongoing professional development provided for school counselors throughout the year at their monthly/quarterly meetings.  Issues such as anxiety disorders, depression, grief counseling, crisis intervention, and child abuse are reviewed and updated to keep counselors abreast of current trends and best practices.  Similar professional development is provided to school psychologists and pupil personnel workers (PPWs) at their regularly scheduled meetings.  During summer 2012, the Department of Student Services (DSS) delivered professional development regarding suicide awareness for psychologists, PPWs, resource counselors, English for Speakers of Other Languages counselors, and social workers.  Individual schools provide professional development based on their school improvement processes and specific needs identified for students, staff members, and families.  This professional development is not mandatory. 

Most of the professional development provided for DSS staff members is facilitated/provided through partnerships with community agencies, including the following:

  • National Institutes of Health
  • Mental Health Association
  • Medical offices
  • Commission on Youth and Children
  • Screening and Assessment Services for Children and Adolescents

There are many best practices, training, and programs that address mental health concerns.  MCPS, however, has not adopted or purchased a specific training program to train MCPS staff members regarding mental health issues. MCPS is pursuing additional professional development opportunities in collaboration with Montgomery County Child Welfare Services and the Seattle-based Casey Foundation.

The costs of increasing training would vary according to a number of factors, such as the number of staff to be trained, the need to hire outside consultants to conduct the training, or the specific program that addresses identified mental health needs. 

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