New website to address mental health at Massena Central
BY JEFF CHUDZINSKI
North Country This Week
MASSENA — Project Raider and the Massena Central School District climate committee are launching a new website aimed at helping students, staff and families address mental health issues and improve the student climate within the district.
On the Mend is a new website that will provide resources and information regarding mental health concerns, according to Student Ex-Officio Logan Benoit.Benoit serves as a student liaison to the board of education.
“Given the growing mental health crisis amongst younger generations, in particular students in high school, it’s crucial to treat those mental health issues seriously. Especially since students simply can’t function when placed under extreme stress,” Benoit told the board.
Benoit told board members during the Jan. 19 meeting that the website will only be launched at the high school level and is the first step of many. The website, which was designed and created by students, will officially launch on Jan. 24.
The website will include information for six major services, including mentors, mindfulness, guidance resources, social work resources, clubs and groups and emergency hotlines.
Guided tours will be given in the coming weeks and will be led by mentors, Benoit said.
Mentors will be trained during an unspecified school day in conjunction with school counselors.
Each tour will be during the advisory period, which takes place during the seventh period, and will take place over two to three days.
Mentors are not yet trained on the website, however that training will take place in the coming days, officials say.
According to Benoit, mentors will come in the form of student peers who will receive training to assist fellow students.Benoit told board members that a number of students came forward and volunteered to be peer mentors.
According to Benoit, one in five students will experience some sort of mental health issue throughout the course of the school year. He then called upon his peers to step in and assist those who need help.
“The other four people who are not a part of that statistic need to step in and help students who are struggling,” Benoit said.
Officials say student mentors are aiming to close the gap amongst students in the high school through newly established connections and empathy. Benoit said a disconnect among students is viewed as a larger issue that the organization is hoping to tackle.
Students will ““sort of be boots on the ground, trying to solve the problem,” he said.
Though the term “mandated reporter” was used to describe the student mentors, Benoit confirmed they will not in fact be legally mandated reporters like registered nurses, social workers and physicians.
By definition, a mandated reporter is an individual who is required to report the facts and circumstances that led them to suspect that a child has been abused or neglected, according to childwelfare.gov.
Mindfulness resources on the website will revolve around the mindful movement room, Benoit told board members. That room, which has been featured previously in presentations, is designed to assist students to decompress and reduce stress levels, officials previously said.
Guidance resources listed on the website will include a list of councilors in the school who can assist students. Each councilor’s schedule will be listed so students know who is available and when.
Additional social work resources will also allow students to have quick, easy communication with school social workers, Benoit said.
Various clubs and groups at the school are also listed, offering students another way to connect with their peers in ways they may not be able to normally.
Benoit told board members that clubs are not specifically designed to assist with mental health issues but are instead an outlet for students to connect and build positive relationships.
Emergency hotlines are also on the website, including the new 988 suicide prevention hotline. Benoit told board members the hotlines are an available resource for all students, not just mentors.
“This is really well done. Well thought out. That kids are able to help kids, that’s a huge win,” Board of Education President Paul Haggett said.