Libby Schools looking to student mental, emotional wellbeing

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The Libby Public Schools Wellness and Safety Committee met Wednesday to discuss items including the mental and emotional wellbeing of students. (Rima Austin/The Western News)

The Libby Public Schools are discussing measures to evaluate and address the mental and emotional health of students.

At a meeting of the Libby Public Schools Wellness and Safety Committee Wednesday, Superintendent Craig Barringer addressed the committee members about the depression survey they will be giving to all seventh-grade students.

The test will consist of six questions, Barringer said. For children who score high on the survey, the school will meet with the child and guardians immediately.

“Nationally, we have seen a large increase with the number of kids that are threatening suicide at such a young age,” said Barringer. “Typically, you notice all the ones that are in your office or coming to see you, but you don’t notice the ones that are sitting in the back of the classroom.”

Barringer said eventually the school system would go on to test sixth grade students as well as eighth grade students.

Some of the committee members were concerned about how the school system planned to approach the students with the test. Libby High School Counselor Amanda Foss explained that students would be told that everyone has to take the same test.

“We are going to just give them a heads-up that everyone will doing the same thing,” said Foss. “We’re just doing a general screening to make sure everyone is healthy and happy.”

Foss said all the administrators overseeing the tests will be saying the same thing and there will be no mention of mental health past the administrators making sure everyone is happy.

Foss said that what administrators will specifically say is still being worked out by Jeannie Winstrom, who works with the schools for Alta Care.

“From what I understand I don’t know if we will say mental health or not,” said Foss.

Barringer said the children will give their names when filling out the questionnaires, but it will be kept confidential.

The only administrators to see the names and questionnaires will be the Wellness and Safety Committee members. The teachers will not have access to the results.

The questionnaires are scheduled to be administered during the week starting Monday, Feb. 11.

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