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Troubling wellness data leads to changes

Crisis Manager App among outcomes from student survey

A study from 2014, which reported that 20 percent of 11th-grade students have seriously considered attempting suicide, is the basis for extended efforts by the school district to provide for students’ mental health needs.

Julia Monteith, Oregon Trail School District communications director, said the Oregon Student Wellness Survey, which is usually taken by sixth-, eighth- and 11th-graders every two years, was last taken by Oregon Trail students in 2010, prior to the recent data.

They will participate in the survey again this year to acquire comparable data.

“It’s something that we definitely pay a lot of attention to,” said Ladine Marquardt, student services director for the Oregon Trail School District.

The 2014 survey was taken by 258 sixth-grade, 282 eighth-grade and 186 11th-grade students.

The district received the data last summer and has begun this year to delve into ways to educate students around barriers such emotional crisis.

“That’s what this tell us,” Marquardt said, “that we have work to do.”

In December 2014, 30 staff members from the district’s middle schools and high school attended an eight-hour Youth Mental Health First Aid training. The training was designed to equip teachers and counselors on how to identify risk factors and warning signs of mental health problems in teens.

“I think people walked away feeling better,” Marquardt said.

Also new this year is the mental health counselor that works from the Clackamas County School Based Health Center at Sandy High School, 37400 S.E. Bell St.

Amy McClung now provides counseling and therapy for students and families.

“The county has been so supportive of people bringing help out here to our kids,” Marquardt said.

And finally, the district is trying to provide resources to students in a way leaders believe they will enjoy: through technology.

The district’s Crisis Manager App is a way to make emergency operation plans easily accessible to school staff, while also providing information to students.

The staff app has emergency maps, step-by-step instructions for emergencies such as bomb threats, and forms to fill out in cases of bullying and fear for a child’s mental health.

The student version will have buttons to immediately call for help via 911 or other local resources.

“Making those resources as accessible to them as possible, I think is key,” Monteith said.

She added that the district hopes to have the app out to staff in one form or another in the next couple of months.

Marquardt said she would also like to transform some of the resources counselors provide — such as a guide to depression — into app form.

Other results of note from the Oregon Trail School District’s 2014 Student Wellness Survey data include:

n 9.7 percent of 11th-graders, 8.3 percent of eighth-graders and 4.7 percent of sixth-graders reported seriously attempting suicide in the past.

n While only .4 percent of sixth-graders and 4.5 percent of eighth-graders said they had not used any tobacco products in the last 30 days, 37.5 percent of 11th-graders had.

n Of the 51.4 percent of 11th-grade students who reported having used marijuana, most of them admitted to trying it for the first time at the age of 14.

n While 59.5 percent of female students considered themselves about the right weight or slightly underweight, compared to 74.4 percent of male students, 53.8 percent also reported trying to lose weight.

n More than 50 percent of students in all grades said they had been harassed in the past 30 days.

n While 49.4 percent of sixth-graders said they thought what they learn in school will be “very important” for the rest of their lives, that number dropped to 23.8 percent in eighth grade and 9.7 percent in 11th grade.

n At least 60 percent of students who took the survey said they felt there was at least one teacher or other adult at their school who cares about them.