December 2016

Dear Parents/Guardians:

On behalf of the Ocean City School District I would like to thank you and your student/s for the continued support of our Student Health and Wellness initiative. As we have moved through the first few months of the school year, there have been numerous Health and Wellness activities at each of our three schools and throughout the Ocean City Community.

Across the nation, it has been reported that most students who struggle with mental health issues have concerns related to thinking, mood, or behavior. However, for a few students, these problems also can manifest into riskier and harmful behaviors, ranging from physical aggression to bullying to substance abuse to self-injury. Young people’s mental health is a pressing issue for school districts, nationwide. We believe, through our process and the action plan developed, that our School District is addressing this important issue.

The School District is addressing this issue through our Youth Mental Health and Wellness Action Plan. The Plan provides our students with a place to go and someone to speak with if they are experiencing a mental health, drug/alcohol, traumatic loss, or other issues. The three goals and actions for this Plan are:

Goal 1: Define, develop, and promote a culture of awareness and acceptance of youth mental health and wellness.

We created a database of local- and community-based resources, which we made available to the community on our website; we also have held resource nights for our parents. We have trained staff on identifying potential mental health and wellness issues and ways to respond, as well as hired additional counselors.

Goal 2: Develop a coordinated roadmap for parents, students, and school community stakeholders to address youth mental health and wellness concerns.

To meet this goal, we constantly are working with our external partners – including the Ocean City Fire Department and Ocean City Police Department – to provide the very best for our students. We have provided alternative health and wellness activities for our students, including Friday Night with Friends, to improve overall mental well-being.

Goal 3: Use common language and coordinated actions to promote the importance of youth mental health and wellness awareness and acceptance throughout the school community, and with its stakeholders.

We currently are in the process of implementing the program “Lifelines: A Comprehensive Suicide Awareness and Responsiveness Program for Teens.” Targeted to teachers, staff and community members, this program will standardize our language as it relates to mental health.

It is my belief, and that of our Board of Education, that our students are their best at learning when they are able to focus and feel supported. As a result, mental health has become one of our primary programming initiatives.

Sincerely,  

Kathleen W. Taylor, Ed.D.

Superintendent