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Mental health resources offered for Forestview families, community – Brainerd Dispatch

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BAXTER — Mental health and communications professionals will be at Forestview Middle School Wednesday, Jan. 25, to meet with students, parents and community members.

Principal Jon Anderson announced two events in letters to families Monday night. The communication comes after the

death of an eighth grade student

was announced Jan. 16 and another student who suffered a

medical incident

Friday. One of the events had already been planned.

“We know this past week has been very difficult and challenging for some of our Forestview students,” Anderson wrote. “… We hurt for the students and families of those most immediately impacted and we ask that you continue to lift these individuals up in your thoughts and actions.

“The staff at Forestview Middle School continue to care deeply and are working hard to connect and check in with each of their students.”

Anderson encouraged families to reach out to their student’s teacher with any questions or concerns.

“In addition to our existing building mental health team consisting of counselors, collaborative service workers, school psychologists, and Northern Pines mental health staff, Forestview Middle School will have additional support on site this week and on-going as needs dictate.”

That extra support includes additional staff from Northern Pines Mental Health, Mobile Crisis Outreach and school psychologists from the Paul Bunyan Education Cooperative. Youth and faith leaders from the Brainerd Ministerial Association will also be onsite to meet with students upon request.

Parents, guardians and community members are invited to an event hosted by Northern Pines Mental Health and Mobile Crisis Outreach from 5:15-6:15 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 25, in the cafetorium.

Rick Jackson, social worker with Mobile Crisis Outreach, will provide professional support and education about the mental health challenges currently affecting students, families, schools and communities. There will be time for questions and answers.

Hahn

Superintendent Heidi Hahn said the event is a response to questions from multiple parents about available resources, signs of mental health issues and how to support one another.

“So just given the events that have taken place this past week, we just felt it was really important that we get time together sooner than later,” Hahn said during a phone interview Tuesday, Jan. 24. “… This is just really in response to parents wanting that time together to be able to discuss and really answer the questions, ‘What can we be doing? What do we need to know?’”

While Hahn said the focus of the program will be on parents, students and community members are welcome to attend.

This just isn’t a school issue. This is in our homes, our community.

Brainerd School District Superintendent Heidi Hahn

“Mental health is a significant concern, and sometimes being in more of what’s considered a rural area, access to services is a challenge, and so that’s really the purpose is to give that professional support, education about challenges that exist and then what kind of resources are available,” Hahn said. “… I just think concerns and anxiety are running high, so we really wanted to be able to provide or be a connecting point for that access.”

Seventh and eighth grade students will have assemblies Wednesday morning with Terrence Talley, of Student Research Minnesota. Seventh grade students are scheduled at 8:20 a.m. and eighth grade students at 9:20 a.m.

Hahn said the district tried to bring events with uplifting messages and motivational speakers to students at least a couple times of year, and this event has been in the works for several months. It just happens to come at an important time.

“I think students need to be uplifted. They need to know that there’s lots of people who are there for them and that it’s important that they be there for one another,” Hahn said. “… It is important because they need more than just everything that’s happening from day to day, from class to class. So having this special time carved out to uplift them and to be able to support them is very, very important.”

Student Reach Minnesota has been in existence since 2001, bringing a message of motivation and hope to students regardless of ethnic, economic, social or religious status.

Talley’s program is called “I’ve Got Your Back,” during which he will share a series of stories that help students understand the importance of helping, caring and supporting others.

Those who don’t want their students attending the assembly should contact the attendance office and ask for them to be excused.

“This just isn’t a school issue,” Hahn said of mental health. “This is in our homes, our community. Mental health is a significant concern, and we just really need to take care of one another and, I think, be more conscious about uplifting each other during difficult times.”

THERESA BOURKE may be reached at

[email protected]

or 218-855-5860. Follow her on Twitter at

www.twitter.com/DispatchTheresa

.

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