July 29—BORDEN — A local school corporation invites families and community members to engage in conversation on a difficult topic.
Borden-Henryville School Corp. will present a “Let’s Talk” dinner and discussion on suicide prevention from 6 to 7 p.m. Tuesday at Borden High School. The talk will include a presentation by Anne Barrett, a school psychology intern from the district who is in her fifth year in the school psychology doctoral program at Indiana State University.
“We see the need in the direct community, the wider community and the nation and how important it is to have these prevention efforts front and center,” Barrett said.
Dawn Meador, director of special populations at Borden-Henryville, points out that mental health and suicide prevention are a priority for the school district.
“I think the most important thing for our district is to make sure we have sustainable, comprehensive services to educate the whole child, and our efforts are growing to make sure we really have an impact on students,” she said.
Meador said there has been a “significant increase” in symptoms of anxiety and depression among Borden-Henryville students, especially during the pandemic. She notes that the district’s efforts are not just about suicide prevention, but about mental health as a whole.
Tuesday’s discussion will focus on warning signs/symptoms, risk factors, and local/national resources for suicide prevention, as well as a conversation about how to ask someone questions to find out if he has suicidal thoughts and how to respond to them.
“We want to make sure conversations are as simple as possible,” Meador said. “We want to help students, empower families and have the tools as a school society to go beyond. It’s not just about looking at academics and results – we really care about the child in his outfit.”
“Let’s Talk” is sponsored by the Tony Bennett Memorial Foundation. Pizzas will be available at 5 p.m. before the presentation and Borden-Henryville offers babysitting services during the presentation.
Barrett’s work involved a research team from Indiana State University in creating a suicide prevention program for middle school students, and she organized a similar program for students in grades 7 through 12 at Borden. -Henryville during the past school year. In 2020, she presented her research on suicide prevention at a National Association of School Psychology conference.
She has worked for Borden-Henryville for two years as an intern, and she works with Katie Schafer, who is also a school psychology intern at the Henryville campus.
Schafer said the goal is to answer any questions parents may have and to “provide a common language between schools and the community.” She has also noticed the increase in mental health problems among children.
“Basically what I’ve seen is that COVID has been tough on everyone – kids have lost a lot of things and activities, even just socializing with each other,” he said. she declared. “I’ve seen a lot of increased anxiety in college students…and the same with depressive symptoms. A lot of the things that we’re seeing popping up, I think, are pretty much common across the country.”
Both Barrett and Schafer participated in “Bring Change to Mind,” a new after-school program for Borden-Henryville students. The program, launched in the last school year, focuses on mental health awareness and suicide prevention. Recently, the district also hired several mental health specialists to serve students.
Meador said it was important that the event be conversational in nature.
“We want kids to have the tools to be able to have candid conversations and build rapport between parents and their students, that way if a student is having difficulty, parents will feel comfortable or know what to do, what to say or where to get help,” she said.