Language shapes thought, and healthy behavior.
Evaluating Danger to Others
I’ve confiscated guns from high school students, conducted risk of harm danger-to-others 5150 evaluations, and sent texts to my own family, “If I don’t make it home tonight, just know I love you.” For example, when a student (16) posted on Snapchat with a rifle, another student took a screen shot and shared it; The principal called me and said, “I really don’t know what to do, how soon can you get here?”
We met with student and conducted risk evaluation, (similar to suicide risk assessment), spoke with his family, collected the weapon, and made sure there were no other firearms accessible to children in the house.
I’ve co-led trainings on de-escalation with law enforcement, led trauma-informed practices trainings and professional development for educators, child welfare social workers and interns, and behavioral health professionals.
At each training, we ask ourselves, “what more can we be doing to prevent death by gun violence? What more can I do to prevent another gun-violence-at-school tragedy?
Too often we, mental health professionals, tend not to serve or under serve difficult clients with what’s deemed to be volitional behavior. In schools, initial decisions about whether or not behavior will be addressed as a discipline matter (volitional) vs. a mental health a concern, is made by school administrators. Many educational leaders, however, report that they don’t have the level of training needed to evaluate students with potentially dangerous behaviors.
Additionally, even after students are identified as in need of behavioral health support, school counselors and support staff must engage with students and families to obtain informed consent to participate in services. Counselors are less likely to pursue consent for students who say, “I’m not interested in therapy,” even when their behavior demonstrates a need.
Some parents and guardians are reluctant or outright opposed to “mental health” services for their children. Equity and shared vision guides our work and we must acknowledge that many parents, especially parents of color, had negative experiences when they were in school; it’s important to understand the reasons for their caution and hesitations when it comes to mental health services.
Counseling support is often centered around a student’s school day, social emotional learning, and academic progress. Many school personnel meet and communicate with parents and guardians, but few professionals are trained to improve family relationships and dynamics, a key factor in youth mental health. After a tragic loss in mass shootings by school-age youth, bullying and exclusion is often cited as a reason for violence. It’s difficult to question if family dysfunction played a role in violence that occurred, especially if family members were also victims of gun violence. Sadly, this was the case in mass shooting at Robb Elementary School yesterday in Uvalde, Texas (21 killed) and at Sandy Hook Elementary School (26 killed).
School-based Mental Health Programs: Some innovative programs are making inroads engaging families and extended support networks to provide multi-generational support. Even with recent successes and improvements in mental health and school-based mental health programs, we are serving 1 in 5 students identified as needing support services.
Beyond Co-location: Post pandemic, school personnel and partnership agencies have had success reaching out tenaciously to build trust with students and families.
School social workers offer multi-faceted solutions include 5-component “packages of support” that combine professional services, youth enrichment positive activities, and three other people or programs on each child’s team, based on self-determination and each child’s unique needs. Evaluation and referral, care coordination (case management), helps to link students with specialized services, physicians, and child psychiatrists.
Johns Hopkins, UC Berkeley, and The California Student Mental Health Policy Workgroup at CDE have put forward excellent policy recommendations.
Our job, as practitioners, is to put policy into practice.
James Wogan, LCSW
Wogan’s Book: Student Support Teams
Wogan’s book arrived: Student Support Teams, Coordinated Care Teams, SARB, Expanded Equity Partnerships, Care Coordination (Case Management) Inter-Agency Collaboration, School/based Mental Health, helping (and learning from) kids.
Amazon Link: Developing Your School’s Student Support Teams: A Practical Guide for K-12 Leaders, Student Services Personnel, and Mental Health Staff https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09Q4MRX8T/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_glt_E9YYAWM485KCMA9DXE86
Student Mental Health Policy Workgroup
James Wogan was selected to be a member of CDE’s Student Mental Health Policy Workgroup
(SMHPW). The purpose of the distinguished SMHPW is to assess the mental health needs of
California students and gather evidence to support policy recommendations to the California State Superintendent of Public Instruction (SPPI) and the California Legislature. This multi-disciplinary workgroup is comprised of teachers, school counselors, school social workers, school psychologists, school nurses, and school administrators, and state and county mental health professionals.
“Can lead a horse to water, can’t make ‘em drink?”
People say “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.” We (school social workers) disagree, we make them thirsty.
Suicide Prevention Resources and Handbooks:
K-12 Comprehensive Toolkit for Mental Health Promotion and Suicide Prevention:
Columbia Suicide Risk Assessment / Suicide Severity Rating Scale, Strengths, Risk Factors, Precipitants. From Harvard, ask about access to firearms regardless of means.
Suicide Prevention: Tips for Parents and Educators, NASP
Suicide Prevention: Tips for Parents and Educators, NASP (Spanish)
Postvention Toolkit for School Administrators, Counselors, and School Social Workers
For more information: James Wogan, MFT, LCSW
School Counselor vs School Social Worker vs School Psychologist (PPSC Authorizations)
At the Symposium for CA School Administrators (ACSA 2017), we led a workshop that described the similarities and differences between school counseling, school social work, and school psychology. We described the traditional role of each position, then gave examples of how school districts have used each position in innovative ways, with emphasis on equity and collaboration across role groups.
Each role is rewarding in it’s own way. Here’s a link to ACSA Symposium Conference Workshop. Please note CTC regs regarding PPSC authorizations have since been updated.
Equity and Shared Vision
Normalize racial dialogue. Lead with empathy. Be healthy so we can respond authentically. Growth happens outside of comfort zones.
James Wogan, LCSW, featured speaker (main stage), ACSA Symposium Conference 2021.
Educational leadership. Association California School Administrators (ACSA).
Title IX Consent Card
Developed by high school students for high school students, facilitated by Wogan
Tiny Homes help Homeless Youth in Oakland / Berkeley
Tiny home village for homeless youth in Oakland / Berkeley. Way to go @YouthSpiritArts Sally and team at #YSA. Thank you for making community better and for giving young people a chance to give back.
School Based Mental Health (SBMH) Guidebook
www.dropbox.com/s/yf375ywj6rf0ieb/School Based Mental Health Guide Book SBMH.pdf
Recently released School Based Mental Health (SBMH) Guidebook. Authors across disciplines (School Social Work, School Psychology, and School Counseling PPSC) collaborated to develop this manual.
Social Emotional Learning (SEL) for Equity
Social Emotional Learning (SEL), Equity, and Social Responsibility (by CASEL)
Suicide Prevention by NASP
Suicide Prevention during COVID / Distance Learning
SEL Guiding Principles
Distinctions of Equity by Zaretta Hammond
Social Justice Standards by Teaching Tolerance
Successful Federal Grant Application – SEL, PBIS, Elementary Counseling & School Social Work (US Dept. of Education).
This successful grant application to the US Department of Education combined structured play during recess with school-based counseling and school social work services to strengthen social, emotional, and behavioral health wellness. Inclusion and school climate skyrocketed, attendance increased, and rates of discipline declined.
James Wogan, LCSW was the lead author and project coordinator for this successful SEL program.
Based on data, PBIS was applied through an equity lens to serve historically underserved communities. The district hired 3.0 FTE” “Social Work Specialists” and expanded support for MTSS Tier 2 and Tier 3 students. Parents from diverse backgrounds strengthen their connection with school.
Staff members straddled the school day and worked in the after school program as well, therefore were present when parents picked up their children.
Example for others to build upon.
We met or exceeded target goals and outcome measures.
James Wogan, LCSW
You must be logged in to post a comment.