District provides update on mental health initiatives

As the 2022-23 school year nears its midway point, Fayetteville-Manlius School District’s work to support the social, emotional and mental health and wellness of its students and staff members remains a top priority.

The district provides support in three primary ways: educating, making connections and providing responsive services.  

Earlier this fall, a publication outlining the district’s mental health supports for students and staff members was sent to all F-M community members. Some of the initiatives are newer, having just been implemented this past spring, while others have been in place for several years.

Here is a recap on some of the work that’s been done to promote a positive school environment and support the wellness and mental health of students and staff members:

  • To support students, which includes supporting their mental health needs, there are people in the district, and in each school building, that students and their families can connect with for support:
  • Each elementary school has a school counselor and school psychologist. 
  • Each middle school has two school counselors and a school psychologist.
  • F-M High School has seven school counselors and a school psychologist.
  • There is one districtwide psychologist that supports all schools.
  • Six family-school liaisons support all of the buildings.  
  • In an effort to connect F-M students with emotional support within the local community, the district maintains a mental health provider referral-resource list that is shared with families who request it. The district also partners with mental health care provider Melissa Carman, Ph.D, LMHC, whose practice is located in the village of Manlius.

  • In July, the F-M Board of Education approved a contract between the district and Contact Community Services. This organization specializes in social and emotional learning and provides training and consultation to support student mental health and wellness. In addition to offering wellness activities and training to the K-12 school community and families, the contract includes providing the district with a full-time mental health educator.

  • Mental health and Suicide Safety in Schools (SSIS) educator William DeSantis serves F-M full-time. Since the start of this school year, Mr. DeSantis has offered students and families suicide prevention and awareness sessions during the day and evening parent information seminar and or virtual workshops (entitled Mental Health Mondays).

  • A confidential screening tool that helps track students’ mental health and wellness is currently being administered for middle and high school students (grades 7-12). The Behavior Intervention Monitoring Assessment System-Second Edition, also called the BIMAS-2, asks students to self-report their recent behaviors and emotions.

  • In-person and virtual workshops focusing on mental health awareness and wellness are offered to Fayetteville-Manlius School District families. During the month of December, the district is offering “Mental Health Mondays” on Dec. 5, 12 and 19. Each virtual session will be led by mental health educator William DeSantis and will focus on topics such as anxiety, depression and suicide prevention.

To access more information about the district’s mental health resources, a quick link “Supporting Students Emotional Needs” is available at the top of the homepage of the district’s website.