October 3, 2018

Alliance Legislative Report (100-77)

The Illinois Terrorism Task Force (ITTF) has made available to school districts a video regarding student mental health and school safety. So much has been discussed about strengthening security to school buildings and grounds - a very important issue - but there has been less conversation about increasing school safety in a preventative manner and focusing on school/student culture, climate, communication, and mental health. This presentation highlights effective programs in select school districts to address these issues. School districts are encouraged to use this video to share with students, staff, and the community at large.
This a product of the ITTF based on discussions over the past seven months of the ITTF School Safety Working Group. The working group issued best practices recommendations earlier this year and continues to meet to update these. The Alliance is an active participant of the IFFT School Safety Working Group. The recommendations and other important school safety programs can be found on the IASB website. You can find the new video here.
The video link will take you to an eight-minute video highlighting a couple of programs designed to provide in-school mental health assistance to students. During the course of discussions among the members of the Illinois Terrorism Task Force's School Safety Working Group, it became apparent that both mental health professionals and school resource officers are critical parts of the school safety equation. The mental health professionals we heard from all agreed that providing those services in the school setting was the best approach because it not only eliminates the logistical issues that often prevent students from receiving the help they may need, but also can destigmatize students getting that assistance.
The program at Proviso East High School involves a partnership with Loyola University Chicago's School of Nursing, while the program in the Metro East counties of Madison and St. Clair is a public-private partnership with Chestnut Health Systems. In both cases, the programs are offered at no charge to the school districts involved and utilize individual insurance and/or state Medicare to make the services free to the families of the children receiving the services.
The contact information for those involved in running these programs is included at the end of the video, and these individuals have expressed a willingness to answer any questions you might have regarding how to operate the programs.
This video is not intended to promote any individual service provider, but rather is intended to provide information about some ways programs like these can be implemented in school districts. Thank you.
Mike Chamness
Illinois Terrorism Task Force