Tim is in his mid-50s and really hasn’t been able to find direction in life. From an early age, he struggled to fit in. He left out and he struggled in school, sometimes lashing out at classmates and receiving in school detention and trips to the principal’s office. His mother was told that Tim needed to work at trying to fit in and behaving better, but it just got worse as he got older. His high school teachers were relieved when Tim finally dropped out. Today he works at the latest in a string of poorly paying jobs and lives alone in a small apartment.

Had Tim been born 50 years later, his story might have been very different. Teachers and schools are doing a better job of recognizing the challenges students face and responding with interventions to support them. Today, the school probably would have detected the evidence of trauma in his young life and helped his mother find the resources he needed, such as a counselor.

As mental health professionals, we see the significant progress schools have made in the last decade, but we also recognize there’s much more that’s needed. That’s why Care to Change has made developing relationships with public and private schools a priority. Our team of professionals works closely with teachers and administrators to strengthen their knowledge of child development and mental health. We’ve developed curriculum based on ACES (Adverse Childhood Experiences), 40 developmental assets, and incorporated TBRI (Trust-Based Relational Intervention), EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) therapy, and what’s involved in creating what are known as “moving beyond trauma-informed classrooms.”

We’re partnering with schools and school districts to offer our services to students and educators when they need support. For example, we know that being a teacher is tougher today than it’s ever been, so we can help educators contend with the challenges and protect their own well-being, so their families can see them at their best instead of always having them come home stressed. We even have situations in which we’ve partnered with local churches to provide financial support for public school students who need mental health services.

Why have we placed such a strong emphasis on working with schools? There are two reasons. First, our community’s schools are being expected to shoulder a larger part of tending to students’ mental health needs, in addition to teaching them how to read, write, and understand algebra. Second, if we can address the needs of students while they’re young, and teach them how to take care of themselves, we’ll be able to head off more severe problems and consequences as they grow into teenagers and adults. Intervention at an earlier age helps children, it helps their schools, and it helps our society at large by increasing the likelihood they’ll become emotionally healthy, independent adults.

If you’re an educator who would like to know more about the services we offer to schools, we’d be happy to talk with you. Working together, we can help your students achieve more and allow you to focus on what you do best. Contact me at april.bordeau@caretochange.org. I’d be happy to talk more with you.

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