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How are Schools in Washington Working to Improve Mental Health?

Reck Ferrell, Northshore School District Mental Health Coordinator

What is your role as a mental health coordinator at Northshore? I coordinate various levels of mental health support for students across the district. My role in the Northshore School District is: Director of Student Services Do you have personal connections to mental health? My personal connection is based on family and friends that have struggled with various mental health-related issues throughout their lives. I feel that it is important to have a strong support system as not everyone is able to combat their mental issues alone. How do you view the current status of mental health in the school district? While we have definitely made strides in regard to mental health services in the Northshore School District over the past few years, there is always room for improvement. Until I can be assured that the mental and social-emotional needs of every student are met, I cannot say that I will ever be satisfied. One of the main reasons why I am encouraged to enter the workplace each day is that I feel empowered by supporting students and working towards combating mental health alongside supportive individuals and partners in the community. How is the district working to better the mental health for students? We are working each year to improve the level of mental health services in the district by adding additional school counselors and mental health professionals to assist students. I am especially excited about our ability to support Elementary aged students as my hope is that if we can assist students in their early years, we can reduce the number of mental health-related incidents for students when they enter middle and high school. What tips do you have for students struggling? I want students to know that while not every day will be ideal when dealing with mental health issues, the great thing about "tomorrow" is that it gives you a chance at a fresh start. And as long as you can find optimism in each new day, having this mindset alone shows that you have the willpower to overcome anything.

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