Previously, I had been working as a school social worker in the Chicagoland area. These suggestions and strategies are based both on my experiences as a school social worker as well as relevant reading and research.
I want to share that the SMHAPP was a great addition to what I already had with my MSW. What this program helped me not only with all the material
that is very practical for me to use in practice, is the that just seeing, hearing and listening to what social work is and how big of an impact we can actually have was a mentality change for me. I would encourage anyone to go for it and do the SMHAPP because the one year we have in internship practice in a school is not enough to learn everything there is. So again, I felt like I needed more. And like others said it’s not just something else I had to do. It was a pleasure to do these things.
Loyola SMHAPP 2020 Graduates Nadia Gomez-Moran & Lisa Johnson Haire talk about their experience in the School Mental Health Advanced Practice Program (SMHAPP). Last month, I put together short Zoom webinars with the SMHAPP grads who had worked together in our “dyad” format as part of their 2-year cohort. They spoke about their experiences overall in the SMHAPP Certificate, but mostly I asked them to talk about each others’ work and what they learned from their time together. As Lisa put it so beautifully, “we joined (the SMHAPP Certifcate) as strangers, and we’re leaving it as friends.”
An important aspect of this professional development should include how to respond if a student approaches an adult for help. In addition, a coordinated approach through a single provider can further the adoption of a shared vocabulary across the entire school community, an important aspect of a high-quality Tier 1 program.
Considering that 31% of high school students reported having symptoms of depression in a given year, early identification of those students is imperative. Teaching about depression allows all students the opportunity to learn about the signs and symptoms and teaches them important help-seeking skills.
“I selected this research article for my Research Brief (RB) because it gave an in-depth explanation of various techniques and programs that can be used for children experiencing major behavioral issues. Not only does the article give a break down for each program and the steps used, but they also provide historical data from 40 years ago until today to explain the effectiveness of the specific programs. Additionally, these practices are strength-based interventions that can be used to empower not only the student with the problem behavior, but also their families as well.”
The school-to-prison pipeline is a system that currently harms our students, and we can do something about it. School social workers have the knowledge and skills – as well as an ethical commitment – to see it eliminated.