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Youth Services System, Schools Build Healthy Students

WHEELING — While YSS– Youth Services System, Inc. — began its work with youth through its emergency shelters–Samaritan House and Helinski Shelter–Ron Mulholland, the founding YSS director recognized that youth, and their families, had a complex range of needs beyond shelter during a crisis. Another way to reach youth with services and support is through their schools.

Students at Triadelphia, moundsville, follansbee, wellsburg and Oak Glen Middle Schools have YSS mental health coordinators working with them. This school-based mental health initiative is a statewide effort to reach students and ensure they have the insight and skills to stay safe and to link students who need more care to treatment.

These coordinators work with the school staff and students and coordinate tested prevention strategies and skill building groups.

“Each student and school is different, so our coordinators work with School Counselors to assess what students may need and assures link to needed services,” Jill Eddy, YSS director of Community-Based Services, said. “Coordinators are also working with faculty to identify additional trainings schools may need and assisting to schedule those trainings.”

Common concerns about substance abuse and teen suicide are addressed schoolwide. Students learn to seek help when a classmate may be at risk of suicide, using the ACT Model (Acknowledge, Care and Tell) to respond to a fellow student.

They develop strategies and skills that help them avoid alcohol and drug use.

Each school offers weekly skill building groups so students build their skills in problem-solving, communicating, and channeling their emotions and their creativity.

Bringing community providers into the school gives students the chance to learn firsthand from others’ expertise. Another goal is to increase parent comfort and involvement in their child’s overall success at school.

School highlights for this past semester include:

∫ At Wellsburg Middle School, Coordinator Trista Rager is working with students on relationship/dating violence Awareness.

∫ Follansbee Middle School is re-starting a Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) group with fifth-grade teacher Nicole Cottle and coordinator Jessica Kennedy.

∫ Moundsville Middle School used a Unity Day in October to have students work on prevention of bullying through Kathie Seidler’s efforts.

∫ Brittney Oliver at Oak Glen Middle School is working to assist with implementation of a newly funded restorative justice program where students are given the chance to reconcile with each other when there is conflict.

∫ Jessica Osmianski worked with the Triadelphia Middle School Leadership Team to coordinate school-wide suicide prevention training and increase parent involvement at the school, along with linking students and families to needed services in the community.

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