Mental health support at DHS

Zero Reasons Why Logo

Zero Reasons Why Logo

Hunter Finerty, Staff Reporter

Towards the end of last school year, it came to the attention of the superintendents of Johnson County school districts that something needed to be done to raise awareness about suicide prevention in the area. After the roll-out of the “Zero Reasons Why” program in early September, some students and parents expressed the need for more transparent mental health support at De Soto High School.

While families may not be aware, there are extensive procedures for DHS families looking for mental health assistance.

The mental health support system is comprised of three counselors, a school psychologist and a school social worker.

“We have a lot of flexibility with regards to how we support students,” said school social worker Joe Kordalski. “Whether that’s triaging through an event that happens in their life all the way to them having a significant, persistent mental health illness where we [the mental health support system] then partner with families and do a lot of collaborative efforts within the community.”

If the needs of a student bypass the abilities of the staff, they look to reference the family to private practitioners in the area.

The “Zero Reasons Why” program is another step being taken by the six districts in the county. While each participating school will execute the initiative differently, they hope to accomplish the same goal of supporting students and families in the area.

Programs such as “The Science of Suicide” and “Alcohol Edu” are also a part of curriculum for DHS freshmen. These programs are intended to teach students about self-control, self-awareness and positive decision making, which Kordalski says ultimately affect mental health.

The state of Kansas also mandates that teachers are trained on mental health awareness. This  information can be found on the district website (https://www.usd232.org/Domain/3603)

“You can go there [the site] and get a lot of training materials and resources. We’ve tried to push that. Unfortunately, I think a piece to that is still the stigma that we’re battling in making that conversation no longer taboo,” Kordalski said.

Support, as well as more information regarding these programs for students is always available with the support staff in Student Services.