Almost one third of all North Dakota middle school students have reported feeling sad or hopeless every day for more than two weeks this past year. A new grant given to Simle Middle School will hopefully change that statistic.
Simle Middle School was awarded $150,000 from The North Dakota Human Services Behavioral Health Division.The money came from a 2017 House Bill to start a children’s prevention and early intervention behavioral health pilot project.
Assistant Director of the Behavioral Division, Laura Anderson says, “The goal is to help connect behavioral health supports and services to the education system. And so supporting kids and their families in their behavioral health.”
13 schools all over North Dakota applied for the grant but Simle Middle was the school the Behavioral Health Division picked.
Principal at Smile Middle, Russ Riehl says when the opportunity came they took it. He says they are currently working hard with Behavioral Services to come up with the best strategies and programs to not only help their students but eventually students all over North Dakota.
Riehl says, “Now we are in that planning process working with the Department of Human Services and some of the requirements and some of the things they might want to see but most importantly what are some things we can do here at Simle that could help other schools learn from it and report back to our legislature this spring.”
They are working to help educators be more aware of the signs of depression in every single one of their students and not just the ones that show obvious symptoms. They want to this by screening students.
“So part of that is still to be developed. Through the school pilot be looking at what does screenings for behavioral health conditions for youth look like in the education system. You know that is why its something new and why this is a pilot we can kind of learn of what that would like and how that would play out,” says Anderson.
Riehl says they hope to be done with the planning process and start implementing strategies before Thanksgiving.