Hamilton Southeastern Schools set to begin mental health program improvements in the fall


By Sophie Nulph

Hamilton Southeastern Schools will pair with the National Center for Mental Health starting in the fall.

The district will begin a year-long Collaborative Improvement and Innovation Network, also known as CoIIN, to help improve the schools’ mental health programs.

The district-wide initiative will start by conducting a needs-based assessment to identify areas of improvement. From there, monthly technical assistance will help to improve the quality of the system in the various schools. The schools want to improve the quality of their system and sustain the services and networking to help enforce and build on the work being done around the state.

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“We were asked by the department of education,” said Brooke Lawson, the district’s mental health and school counseling coordinator. “The opportunity is to work alongside other districts and the state.”

The district is one of two in the state to receive the opportunity because of its previous mental health work with students. The other participating district is Evansville.

The CoIIN will strive to improve the mental health services in schools, expand access and work with the state to create and improve policies and services offered to schools.

Special Projects Officer Freedom Kolb has worked on the project for almost two years to help get it started.

“One of the things we are most proud of is being recognized by the state,” Kolb said. “We can work with them not only to build high-quality systems in the district but figure out how other schools can benefit in the progress.”

Hamilton Southeastern Schools has worked to strengthen its social/emotional learning for students.

“Teaching the kids the skills to manage their emotions, problem-solve and have empathy for one another (are the goals),” Lawson said.