Tier 1 services, North High School’s Fentanyl Education Night coordinated by Prevention and Therapeutic Specialist Sarah Thomas
Mental health and substance use prevention services fall under three categories: Tier 1, Tier 2, and Tier 3. Tier 1 is universal support, examples of which are: a whole class intervention like delivery of curriculum about safe bodies, vaping, or suicide prevention. Tier 1 is an essential tool for support in delivering some basic psychoeducation and skill building to as many students as possible. Tier 2 is more targeted, with services provided to students who are identified as having elevated needs, usually delivered through small group intervention. Tier 3 generally refers to one-on-one student support.
Joseph Waldon, Prevention and Therapeutic Specialist for HiIl Campus of Arts and Sciences, performs mental health classroom visits with the school social worker. Together, they educate students on how to recognize the signs of anxiety and depression. They also educate the students on suicide prevention and developing positive coping skills.
“We teach them about breathing exercises, and those sorts of things, and for some kids they learn a skill and that ends up being enough for them,” said Joseph. This type of universal support is essential to providing a quality learning environment for all students, they are skills that are useful for all.
“If kids’ mental health needs are being met they are going to be more ready to learn, you can’t learn or focus if you are depressed or anxious, and if kids’ individual needs are being met, individually those kids are going to thrive more in an academic environment,” Joseph, otherwise known as Joe, is passionate about his community and the work he does.
He continued, “Collectively, if a community’s mental health needs are being met, then the community as a whole is stronger and more stable, more positive, in terms of having a school that has students who are skilled at self regulation and self control. The result is that a teacher or a guest teacher is better able to teach in a more manageable and supportive classroom.”
Prevention and Therapeutic Specialist Joseph Waldon leads a Tier 2 group for 8th graders struggling with depression and anxiety
Joe is also integrated into the school community in a way that outside providers could not be. He makes sopapillas for celebrations at school, he has coached cross country, and he is truly a part of the Hill Campus of Arts & Sciences community.
When asked about why mental health is important for quality learning environments, Amanda responded with a question, “How did you learn best? When did you learn best, and when did you learn the most?” After some reflection, the answer was clear as day, and Amanda confirmed, “It is through strong relationships. It is psychological safety that is the baseline for all neurological growth.”
With relationships at the foundation of our provider programs, we are primed for success and positive outcomes.