Department Mission and Purpose The BHMS Mental Health Team's mission is to promote and encourage the mental health, social development, and emotional well-being of all Big Hollow Middle School students.
Our Mental Health Department is a positive support for students, families, and the community to promote student social emotional development. They facilitate the resiliency of students to successfully deal with problems, conflict, and crisis. The BHMS Mental Health Team works individually, in groups, and in the classrooms to address the multitude of student concerns that arise in the school environment.
Mental Health Team Roles
The BHMS Mental Health Team consists of our school psychologist and two school social workers. They have many roles at the middle school, some of which include:
Provide individual counseling
Facilitate small group interventions for social/emotional learning (emotion management, social skills, conflict resolution, self-esteem, self-advocacy, and more!)
Facilitate school-wide Second Step classroom intervention (see separate tab for more info!)
Conduct initial and re-evaluations for special education services
Facilitate peer and group mediations
Facilitate detentions to teach social/emotional skills related to student's areas of need
Lead/participate in School Climate and Culture Team initiatives
Collaborate and problem-solve with staff and outside therapeutic teams in order to best meet student needs
Provide professional development for staff and parent workshops for families
School Counseling Support
All students have access to our mental health team throughout the school year. Students can receive ongoing counseling support, with parent/guardian consent. They can receive up to five counseling sessions without parental consent (see Confidentiality below). Students may be referred by parents or staff members. Students can also self-refer. Once a student is referred, the mental health team will determine whether or not the student qualifies for ongoing support. The mental health team may collaborate with teachers, administrators, parents/guardians, and/or the student to make this determination. The team will also take into consideration circumstances which may require additional support, such as a family or personal crisis. In order for a student to receive school counseling support, their educational functioning must be impacted. If the student is able to fully function in the school environment, but is having difficulty in other settings, outside counseling would be recommended. Please refer to the Outside Resources listed below for supports in our area.
Consent & Confidentiality
Consent for School Counseling Services: Students who refer themselves for school counseling services may prefer their parents be unaware that they are seeing a school counselor. If the student is a general education student, no initial parent permission to serve the child is mandated. The Illinois Children’s Mental Health Act of 2003 (405 ILCS 5/et seq.) requires that written permission from the parent/guardian is required for ongoing counseling services, however. (Ongoing is defined as more than 5 contacts during which services are provided, either individually or in a psycho-educational group.) The age of the child, the nature of the problem, and the extent of services to be provided to the child must be guiding factors in arriving at a professional decision of whether to obtain parent permission to serve the child before the fifth contact with the student. It should be noted that, according to the Illinois Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Act (405 ILCS 5/et. seq. section 3-501 a), minors between the ages of 12-17 are allowed to receive up to five 45-minute sessions of counseling before the worker makes a service decision. Parent/guardian permission is required for more than five sessions.
Confidentiality: Our Mental Health Team's confidentiality policies are guided by:
The Nation Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPPA)
The National Association of School Psychologists Principles for Professional Ethics
The National Association of Social Workers Code of Ethics
The Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)
The information shared and discussed during counseling sessions will remain confidential, unless there is harm or risk of harm involved. If the student is being harmed by others, harming him/herself, or is threatening to harm someone else, a parent/guardian will be notified. Others may need to be notified, depending on the situation, such as an administrator, the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), or law enforcement. All other discussions will remain confidential, unless the student requests the mental health team member to share.
Our Mental Health Team members follow the same protocol when crisis situations occur with individual students. A crisis may be related to self-harm, suicidal ideation, and/or threatening statements towards self/others. Once our team is notified of a potentially harmful behavior, thought, feeling, etc., the student will be pulled from class to go through our risk assessment process.
Below is a summarized version of our process:
2 Mental Health Team members will meet with the student to determine if there is imminent risk of harm by completing a risk assessment
If there is no imminent risk of harm, a parent/guardian will still be notified that this conversation took place.
If there is an imminent risk of harm to self or others, a parent/guardian will be notified, as well as an administrator.
The Mental Health Team will provide recommendations based on the risk assessment. This may include:
Further assessment at the Emergency Room/Psychiatrist/Behavioral Health Hospital/etc. to determine next steps
This assessment may lead to partial or full hospitalizations, outside therapeutic support, safety contracts, etc.
Safety contract with parent/guardian and student
Outside counseling support
Ongoing school counseling support
A Mental Health Team member will follow up with the student