Current research indicates a link between bullying and substance use: middle and high school students who bully their peers and/or are the victims of bullying are more likely to use alcohol, cigarettes, and marijuana than their peers. Communities That Care collaborates with our middle school to stage annual anti-bullying events that include assembly speakers, Youth to Youth programs, and media campaigns that support the in-school anti-bullying and life-skills curricula.
School-based health centers
Researchers as well as health and educational professionals agree that children in good health are in a better position to learn. School Based Health Centers (SBHC) are an effective means of providing high-quality, comprehensive health care to our children, while improving their health knowledge. Ossining UFSD’s collaboration with Open Door Family Medical Center has established SBHCs at both the middle and high schools. Integrated into the school environment, our SBHC programs focus on both prevention and wellness and are uniquely situated to support students as they face decisions about using, or not using, harmful substances, in addition to guiding their management of chronic and acute illness.
Curriculum support and expansion programs
Assembly speakers and workshops at the middle and high schools on substance-abuse prevention, making healthy choices, Internet safety, and leadership development are ongoing throughout the year, as well as parenting workshops and information sessions. Communities That Care also sponsors student attendance at regional and national leadership conferences. In-school media campaigns reinforce prevention messages, awareness of New York’s Good Samaritan law and the signs of alcohol poisoning, and provide majority reinforcement for nonusers. Health classes at the high school put special emphasis on peer-to-peer instruction on the dangers of prescription drug abuse. Each spring, high school students must complete the AlcoholEDU online course in order to attend prom; a free parent version is available for all Ossining families using the “Learn More” button that follows.
Mental health first aid for youth
Much like a Red Cross-administered first aid course that teaches evaluation of vital signs and indications of physical trauma, Mental Health First Aid training teaches participants a 5-step action plan to assess a situation, select and implement interventions and secure appropriate care. Communities That Care, in collaboration with Open Door Family Medical Center, has facilitated the training of more than a hundred healthcare professionals, teachers, and members of the community at large to improve mental health literacy in Ossining—helping them identify, understand and respond to signs of mental illness in our youth. The choice to experiment with substance use is often an attempt to self-medicate when experiencing emotional/behavioral distress. CTC sees MHFAY training in the community as a critical component in identifying at-risk youth and offering them alternatives to drugs, alcohol, and self-harm. If you would like to attend a training, e-mail the coalition using the “Reach Out” form at the bottom of this page.
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