May is Mental Health Awareness Month, a time when many national organizations, including the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and Mental Health America, work to raise awareness about the importance of mental health and to stop the stigma associated with mental health disorders. According to NAMI, 1 in 5 young people will have a mental illness at some point in their lifetime. Many of them will not receive professional treatment for their conditions. Some refuse to get help due to stigma and stereotypes of associated with mental health conditions.
In Lower Merion School District (LMSD), efforts to promote mental health and reduce stigma around mental illness occur year-round. This month, however, is a time when we can come together as a school community to highlight resources and encourage students to seek support if they are struggling with significant challenges or feeling alone. Many resources, both within and outside the school district, are available to students who may need someone to talk with or support in addressing their concerns. In addition to the school staff with whom the students interact with on a daily basis, School Counselors, School Psychologists and School Social Workers are available to assist students and their families at all elementary, middle, and high school buildings within our district.
Moreover, Mental Health Counselors serve as an additional resource to students in our secondary schools. Various counseling groups are offered to support students such as Bereavement Group, "B" Less Stressful Group and Changing Families Group. Our START, Student Assistance Program (SAP) and building Achievement Teams are available to identify and offer supportive services to students experiencing academic, behavioral and/or emotional difficulties that may pose barriers to school success. Students, staff and parents can share their concerns about students in need of support and a team of highly trained professionals will review the concerns to identify interventions and strategies to address any identified needs.
Some students may not feel comfortable sharing concerns with school staff or through these programs and may prefer to share concerns about themselves or peers anonymously. LMSD has implemented the statewide Safe2Say Something anonymous tip line which is available to students 24/7. This tip line provides a safety net for concerns that may occur outside of the school day.
It is also an opportune time to highlight the importance of suicide prevention. Dr. Matt Wintersteen, from the Department of Adolescent Psychiatry at Thomas University Medical College will return to talk with parents on May 21 at 7:00 p.m. at Harriton High School about this important topic. Parents/guardians of students in grades K-12 are invited to this event. More information about this event is available on the LMSD website.
We encourage you to regularly talk with your children about their feelings and urge them to seek assistance if they are struggling or feeling overwhelmed. Please feel free to contact your child's School Counselor or other member of the school team if you are concerned about the mental health of your child. In addition to resources within the school, some external resources are listed below.
- Montgomery County Mobile Crisis Support 855-634-HOPE is available 24 hours for parents/guardians
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK)
- Trevor Lifeline at 866-488-7386: provides crisis intervention and suicide intervention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning youth
- Safe2Say Something Tipline; 1-844 Safe2Say (1-844-723-2729) 24/7 anonymous tipline
Director of Student Services & Special Education
Lead Supervisor of Clinical Services & Gifted Education
Supervisor of K-12 Counseling, Testing & Holistic Supports
Lead Supervisor of School health & Student Safety