District 88 shares mental health and social-emotional supports available to students and families

The holiday season and the start of a new year provide an opportunity to reflect on 2021. It has been a difficult year – filled with challenges and adversity as a result of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic – and we know many of our students and families continue to face hardships. While this time of year can be festive and joyous for many, it can be stressful and traumatic for others, especially as students prepare for final exams on Dec. 15, 16 and 17.

At District 88, the safety, health and well-being of students and staff is our No. 1 priority. We know building relationships proceeds learning, and we continue to focus on connecting with all students. For students to achieve academically, we must first meet their needs outside of the classroom – including providing mental health and social-emotional assistance.

As we previously shared, we recently implemented the Elyssa’s Mission SOS Signs of Suicide program at District 88 to teach students and staff how to recognize the signs of suicide using the ACT technique, which stands for Acknowledge, Care and Tell. This specific programming allows us to enhance our social-emotional and mental health initiatives/services and identify students in need of support. The first phase of the program took place on Dec. 1 at Addison Trail and on Dec. 7 at Willowbrook, and more than 400 students were screened. SOS educates students on how to identify signs of depression and suicide in themselves and their peers, while training school professionals, parents and community members to recognize at-risk students and take appropriate action. The program seeks to teach youth that depression is a treatable illness, empower them to respond to a potential suicide (themselves, a friend or a family member) and help prevent teen suicide. We will continue to expand these screening efforts, as well as our interventions and supports.

Below are resources available to District 88 students and families:

  1. Pupil Personnel Services (PPS) staff: The PPS teams at Addison Trail and Willowbrook consist of school counselors, social workers, psychologists, deans and nurses. For details, including how to request assistance, CLICK HERE.

  2. Student groups: Student groups provide cohesiveness and an environment where students feel safe and can discuss the issues they are facing. A variety of topics are offered each year, including grief/loss, social skills, anger management and anxiety. For more information, contact the Addison Trail School Counseling Department at 630-628-3318 or the Willowbrook School Counseling Department at 630-530-3419.

  3. ReferralGPS: This is a free, web-based service that assists students, staff and community members in finding local treatment for mental health and substance use needs. Along with a searchable database, ReferralGPS provides appointment setting, follow-up care and help for families in triage. The program accepts a variety of private and public insurance and also is available to those who are uninsured or underinsured. Information entered into the system is confidential and securely stored. To access counseling-related services through ReferralGPS, contact the Pupil Personnel Services (PPS) staff at Addison Trail or Willowbrook, or go to https://referralgps.com/find-help/dupage88.

  4. CARE Team: In 2020, District 88 formed a team to concentrate on the social-emotional well-being of students and staff. The purpose of the CARE (Committed to Academics, Resiliency and Equity) Team is to implement intentional social-emotional supports, using inclusive, culturally responsive, restorative and trauma-informed practices.

  5. External resources: For anyone experiencing difficult or suicidal thoughts, there are various resources available. CLICK HERE for details.

For questions or more information, contact District 88 Director of Student Services Dr. Raquel Wilson at rwilson@dupage88.net or 630-782-3005.