The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends annual mental health screening for all school-age children. In the same way we monitor a child’s physical wellness, it is important to monitor mental wellness. Mental wellness allows children to think clearly, develop socially and learn new skills. It is essential!
Parents are critical to a child’s mental wellness. They are excellent observers (and reporters) of children’s feelings and behaviors. Parents are often the first people to recognize a concern. For elementary-age children, parents are asked questions in order to monitor children’s mental wellness.
MOST mental wellness screening is preventative. Regularly considering a child’s mental wellness builds awareness. This allows parents to talk with their children about mental health. Also, it helps parents identify concerns even earlier. Often, it is difficult to see the value in wellness screening because it will prevent mental health concerns from ever happening!
MOST children have good mental health. Wellness screening may seem unnecessary, especially when a parent does not have a concern regarding their child’s mental wellness. Just as with physical health, most parents will be reassured that their child’s mental health is typical! However, approximately 20-25% of children will experience a mental health concern. That is 5 children in a classroom of 20! Most mental health concerns are highly treatable, especially with early identification.
Occasionally children have been identified with a mental health concern and are already connected to a medical or mental health provider. A wellness screen may seem irrelevant since concerns have already been identified. On the contrary, a mental wellness screen is still recommended. The wellness screen can serve as an annual check-in and may be used to track improvements!
The school districts Samaritan’s Connected Community Wellness Screen serve are aware of how important mental wellness is! That is why they have chosen to not only offer the screening but have developed school based mental health initiatives. When a child is identified with a potential mental health concern, a masters level clinician will contact the family to learn more. Using information from the wellness screen and the parent conversation, a recommendation for next steps will be made. A clinician or case manager will then follow up with the family to offer information and support.
Even if your child’s wellness screen does not identify a concern, parents can always ask for assistance. Parenting is hard work. It is difficult to know what is “normal” and what may be a concern. Through Samaritan’s Connected Community Wellness Screen Program, a mental health clinician or case manager are available to answer your questions!
Visit our website www.samaritan-counseling.com/wellness-screen to learn more!
Amy D’Addario, MS, CSW, SAC
Connected Community Wellness Screen Site Coordinator
On-site Clinician at Samaritan Counseling Center
Amy D’Addario is the screening site coordinator and an on-site clinician with the Connected Community Wellness Screen program for the Neenah Joint School District (HOPE), among seven additional school districts. Amy has over 15 years of experience serving children, youth and families in a variety of systems including child welfare, coordinated services, juvenile justice, adult corrections, and in private practice. Amy has also managed several county and statewide initiatives focused on mental health screening and services.
Contact Amy via email or at (920) 572-6674 (mobile) or (920) 751-6800 ext. 10704 (office).