Canyons School District is pleased to join with the American School Counselor Association and Utah School Counselor Association in celebrating National School Counseling Week, Feb. 1-5, 2016, and recognizing the vital contributions made by Canyons’ counselors on a daily basis.
When it comes to preparing students for emotional and academic success, Canyons’ 50 middle and high school counselors are second to none. These dedicated men and women help students plan their careers, navigate educational opportunities and provide needed emotional support in challenging situations.
“School counselors work with all students to remove barriers to learning by addressing student academic concerns, career awareness and social skills,” said Kwok-Sze Wong, ASCA executive director.
“Comprehensive school counseling programs help increase student achievement and provide a much-needed resource for students, parents, teachers and administrators.”
But Canyons’ school counselors do so much more than help map out academic pathways. They also provide much-needed support when students or school communities are experiencing crises. For example, when a student or teacher dies suddenly, the counselors are among the first to provide help.
CSD counselors are trained to provide support to health teachers and students who may be concerned about loved ones through Lifelines, a new suicide prevention and awareness program initiated in CSD this year.
As a part of the newly-implemented Lifelines program, Canyons District health teachers and counselors received special training this summer to teach four 45-minute lessons or two 90-minute lessons to students in the 7th and 10th grade. The lessons are age-appropriate for each grade level, and discuss warning signs of suicide, what to do if students are concerned about a friend or loved one and how to involve an adult to get help.
“We want everyone to be aware of what are the best practices in taking steps to helping kids get the right help and recognizing the warning signs,” says Tamra Baker, director of Student Support Services. “The effects of suicide go on for years for those who are impacted.”
Lifelines is a heavily-researched, evidence-based program, and is included on a list of approved programs provided by the Utah State Office of Education in compliance with state law. As part of the program, teachers and school faculty are also receiving training on how to respond if they are approached by students seeking help, how to build relationships with students and watch for warning signs.
“Suicide awareness was already being taught, but we think Lifelines is particularly strong, so we are replacing what has been taught with these lessons as a greater protective factor for kids who are at risk,” Baker said.
Baker points out that Utah ranks 4th in the nation for suicide fatality rates for people age 10 and above. In 2013, suicide was the leading cause of death for Utahns ages 10-17, according to the Utah Department of Health Violence and Injury Prevention Program.
“There is a close correlation between mental health and suicide,” Baker said. “The earlier we can intervene, the better.”