Recap: Anxiety in High School, January 2023

Meeting Recap: Anxiety in High School
January 9, 2023

At our January 24th SEPAC SOMA meeting, we learned how to spot – and support – anxiety in high school students, and about the mental health programs available at Columbia High School.

Jenny Easton gave an overview of how anxiety often presents in teenagers and the Social Work Intern Program at CHS. Sara Brinkerhoff told us about Family Connections and The Loft, a grant-funded program with various groups and activities designed to support CHS students socially, emotionally and academically. Elizabeth Kolodiy took us deeper into anxiety and school avoidance/refusal, and shared info about ESS, a therapeutic, in-school counseling program for students with more intensive counseling needs. David Velder explained CAP, a program designed to “scale down” the high school experience for students with high-level anxiety and/or depression.

High school can be hard, right? But there are ways to make it more manageable for kids who are struggling. Mental health and counseling resources are available for all CHS students, not just those with an IEP or 504 Plan. If you are concerned about your child, their School Counselor is a good place to start. (If you aren’t sure who it is, check PowerSchool via a browser.) Also, check out the CHS Counseling website for additional resources. The basics and contact info for all the programs covered at the meeting are below.

Social Work Intern Program
The Social Work Intern Program places graduate school social work interns at CHS to provide a full range of counseling services for students and their families. The program’s goal is to support students who are experiencing social/emotional challenges and to help those students become more available to the learning process. Please fill out this request form if you have concerns and would like to connect with someone on the team.
“Anxiety + Social Work Intern Program” Slide Presentation
Who’s eligible? All students
Questions? Contact Jenny Easton

The Loft @ CHS
The Loft at Columbia High School is part of Family Connections’ school-based youth services program. It provides a wide range of groups, counseling and activities, and strives to be a safe place for all CHS students. Click here to learn more about what The Loft offers and here for the consent form.
“The Loft @ CHS” Slide Presentation
Who’s eligible? All students
Questions? Contact Sara Brinkerhoff

ESS (Effective School Solutions)
ESS is a therapeutic program that provides emotional and behavioral supports to students and families through weekly individual therapy, group therapy and family support. If you’re familiar with ISTEP at the middle school level, ESS is its equivalent at CHS.
“ESS” Slide Presentation”
Who’s eligible? Students with more intensive counseling needs, but the referral must be internal (case manager, school counselor, administrator, etc), not parent-driven.
Questions? Contact Julie Bennett or Elizabeth Kolodiy

CAP (Columbia Academy Program)
CAP classes were developed to address the needs of students with anxiety and/or depression who need a smaller, more supportive environment, and to provide a “soft landing” for students who may be returning to school from an outside program.
“CAP” Slide Presentation
Who’s eligible? Students must have an IEP to participate in CAP classes.
Questions? Contact David Velder

Students with an IEP or 504 Plan
▫ If your child already receives counseling as part of their IEP and you have additional concerns, please reach out to their case manager and current counselor.
▫ If your child has a 504 Plan, it’s a good idea to keep the 504 Coordinator in the loop (their grade-level assistant principal) if you have social/emotional concerns about your child.

SEPAC SOMA High School Liaison
If you have general questions or aren’t sure where to start, SEPAC Liaison Marian Raab is a great resource.

▫ More about Family Connections and the services they offer
▫ NJ Children’s System of Care/PerformCare Flyer (English/Spanish)
PerformCare Fact Sheet (by SEPAC SOMA, January 2022)
SOMSD Special Services Overview (a comprehensive presentation by Susie Budine, October 2022) – for more detailed info about Tiered Supports and Intervention & Referral Services (I&RS), skip to 6:20

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