May 1, 2022 – May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and Duval County Public Schools is proud to be a part of the global effort to destigmatize mental health!
In addition to combating stigma, the district is continuously working to increase access to mental health and help students feel empowered to take control of their own mental wellness.
A recent example of this is the GROW initiative, which was launched this year. Created using significant feedback from students, the initiative helps connects secondary students to school counselors, social workers, and mental health therapists who are certified to address a range of needs including mental health counseling, academic support, and assistance with housing, clothing, and food.
The initiative also includes the creation of GROW clubs. These are student-led organizations on select high school campuses that promote great emotional and mental health among the student and staff body through regular activities and initiatives.
GROW forms just one part of the district’s comprehensive approach to promoting mental wellness. Other initiatives include:
- Youth Mental Health First Aid Training: This is training for all school-based personnel in how to recognize warning signs that indicate a child may be having a mental health concern or crisis. The district started this training in the 2014-15 school year. It has since become required training by the Florida Department of Education.
- Full Service Schools: Students have access to a mental health therapist through this partnership with United Way of Northeast Florida, Kids Hope Alliance, and multiple mental health service providers.
- Staff Support: The district employs hundreds of school counselors as well as dozens of social workers. School counselors provide immediate support and resources for emotional, social, and academic needs. Social workers provide support to students and families struggling with needs such as housing, clothing, and food challenges.
Katrina Taylor, the district’s director of school behavioral health, says mental health is an important priority for the district because it directly correlates with academic wellness.
“As a school district, our primary goal is to ensure students achieve academically so that they are prepared for success in college and their chosen careers,” Taylor said. “However, what can’t be ignored is that link between mental/emotional wellness and academic wellness.”
Taylor plans to highlight the importance of mental health awareness in several ways this month, including:
- Clothesline Project: New this year, this project involves schools across the district displaying t-shirts with encouraging messages along clotheslines in their hallways.
- Student mental health contest: Students are encouraged to submit projects that highlight ways they can become mentally strong. Contest rules are available at www.duvalschools.org/mentalhealthpsa. Submissions are due May 20.
- May 3: Mental health proclamation will be read during the regular School Board meeting on Tuesday, May 3.
- May 5: Children’s Mental Health Day. Team Duval is invited to wear green to show their support for mental health.