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School psychologists provide mental health services to improve the lives and learning of children

November 5, 2008

Nov. 10-14 is School Psychology Awareness Week

Bettendorf, Iowa (Nov. 1, 2008)—Good mental health is important for everyone. According to the National Association of School Psychologists, mental health is as important as physical health to our quality of life. Mental health is not simply the absence of mental illness, but also means having the skills necessary to cope with life’s challenges. If ignored, mental health problems can interfere with children’s learning, development, relationships, and physical health.

Mississippi Bend Area Education Agency (AEA) wishes to recognize the work of school psychologists during School Psychology Awareness Week, Nov. 10-14. School psychologists are mental health professionals who help children and youth overcome barriers to success in school, at home and in life. AEA school psychologists work with parents, educators and other mental health services providers to help youngsters develop resiliency, competence and self-esteem. School psychologists provide mental health services that address needs at home and school to help students succeed academically, emotionally and socially.

The U.S. Surgeon General estimates that one in five children and adolescents will experience a significant mental health problem during their school years. Some problems are more serious than others, but all children face challenges that can affect their learning and behavior. These can include:

• Stress and anxiety                         • Worries about being bullied                • Problems with family or friends

• Loneliness or rejection                 • Disabilities                                              • Depression

• Concerns about sexuality            • Academic difficulties                             • Thoughts of suicide or hurting others

• Dropping out                                 • Alcohol and substance abuse               • Fear of violence, terrorism and war

Children are remarkably resilient when they get the help they need. Children and youth thrive when they feel safe and supported. Parents and teachers sometimes need help in their effort to provide a system of support that meets each child’s individual needs. Effective support systems include:

• Love and encouragement of parents and family            • Guidance of teachers and other important adults

• Consistent expectations and support                               • Access to mental health and other helping professionals

• Services that respect and respond to personal and cultural differences

Mississippi Bend AEA school psychologists work to find the best solution for each child and each situation. They work with students individually and in groups. They also develop programs to train teachers and parents regarding effective teaching and learning strategies; effective techniques to manage behavior at home and in the classroom; working with students with disabilities or with special talents; abuse of drugs and other substances; and preventing and managing crises.

To learn more about the services of Mississippi Bend AEA, please contact Pat Kirkland at 344-6403.

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