Mental Health Initiative Update
September 24, 2019
Last spring Dripping Springs ISD formed a Mental Health Task Force to address a plan for enhanced mental health support and progress has been made this school year implementing steps in the plan.
During the 2018-19 school year, some district administrators intensified the conversation about mental health support by brainstorming, researching, identifying local expertise both in the district and in the community, and meeting with organizations and individuals (nurses, social workers, mental health authorities) to explore what types of services are available in the area. A task force was formed and continued the initial work, developed an initiative and mission statement, developed the concept of a tiered mental health system, and designed a personnel flowchart and timeline. The task force also connected with hospitals to see what potential partnerships might exist, researched the potential of using other tools such as telehealth services, compiled a resource list, and developed a timeline for recommended action steps.
One of the biggest accomplishments so far this year has been completion of Mental Health First Aid training by more than 500 staff members. The district’s goal is for every DSISD employee to receive the training this year. Mental First Aid Training is a skills-based training that teaches participant about mental health issues, helps them recognize a person in need of assistance, and provides tools to support those in need until they can connect with professional help.
In addition, a mental health services team consisting of four mental health professionals is being formed. Two elementary counselors (each serving half-time at two campuses) have been in place since the start of the school year, and the process to hire two secondary positions is underway. These additional professional staff members will work closely with counselors to address student mental health needs and support students in crisis.
Many aspects of the DSISD mental health initiative align with elements of Senate Bill 11 that was passed during the last legislative session. The Mental Health Task Force will work with the district’s School Safety and Security Committee to address the School Safety and Mental Health strategic plan.
DSISD's mental health initiative is supported by the Dripping Springs Education Foundation.