May is Mental Health Awareness month, and the Lincoln Academy Students Services Team (SST) has been reaching out to students, teachers, and parents to let the community know what kinds of mental health support are available to the LA community. In the fall of 2018 LA students identified mental health issues as their number one health concern, and the SST is responding with various outreach efforts, including workshops during advisor group, a presentation at a Parent Association meeting, and activities around hope, wellness, and kindness.

In advisor group, students have watched videos and had discussions around reducing mental illness stigma and how to access support services at school. Students can refer themselves to LA social workers, parents can contact social workers Lisa Katz and Tory Wright via their emails or by contacting the health center, and teachers often refer students when they notice changes in behavior or mood.

Tulips planted by Interact Club in honor of the Yellow Tulip Project, a Maine-based nonprofit organization working to de-stigmatize mental illness, are now in full bloom in the LA courtyard.

Tulips planted by Interact Club in honor of the Yellow Tulip Project, a Maine-based nonprofit organization working to de-stigmatize mental illness, are now in full bloom in the LA courtyard.

On May 9th, social workers Tory Wright and Lisa Katz and other members of the Student Services Team (SST) joined the Lincoln Academy Parent Association (LAPA) to discuss mental health awareness and suicide prevention at Lincoln Academy.

Katz and Wright informed parents about how LA handles mental health issues in the student body. LA’s advisor system, where students meet with the same advisor every day during the school day all four years of high school, helps keep students from falling through the cracks, since an adult on the LA staff sees students every day and is well-placed to observe any changes in attitude or behavior.

The Student Services Team, comprised of health center staff (nurse and social workers), guidance counselors, administration, special education faculty and staff, alternative education teachers, and the school resource officer, meets weekly for an hour and a half or more to identify students who may be struggling academically, socially, or emotionally. There is a comparable working team for the residential program.

“Between the weekly SST meetings and the daily advisor program, students who are experiencing difficulties are less likely to fall through the cracks and are able to access school and community resources in a timely fashion,” said Katz.

This month students are decorating “kindness stones” and positive message signs for the Yellow Tulip Project “Hope Garden” in the LA courtyard. The Yellow Tulip Project is a Maine-based non-profit program aimed at reducing stigma around mental illness. Visitors are welcome to stop by and see the courtyard garden while the tulips are in full bloom.