Friday, December 12, 2008

Mental Health Services

In a recent post, the availability of psychological services was identified as a key element in improving academic performance in some settings.

The Black Male Handbook, edited by Kevin Powell, makes an even stronger case for the need of these services. A chapter by Andrae L. Brown, PH.D, entitled Moving Toward Mental Wellness is certainly worth reading.

Dr. Brown talks about the prevalence of traumatic events in the everyday lives of black men and boys and makes the following observation:

"The most susceptible youth are young people from neighborhoods with high rates of female-headed households living below the poverty level, and low school attendance and employment rates. Research suggest, and my personal experience confirms, that up to 50 percent of youth involved in the justice system meet the criteria for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) This rate is up to eight times higher than in the general population."

He goes on to say "For instance, maltreated children (those experiencing abuse and neglect) are 59 percent more likely to be arrested before they reach age eighteen, and 30 percent more likely to be arrested for violent crime. Furthermore, 92 percent of youth involved in the juvenile justice system report some type of trauma, which then can result in hyperactivity, inability to pay attention, extreme impulsiveness, aggression, anger, paranoia, aloofness, and the inability to develop close relationships."

Our school district is now promoting The Caddo Plan as it attempts to jump start 11 low performing schools and improve academic performance. Does the plan consider the need for mental health services in view of the communities served by many of these schools?

This appears to be an area worth exploring no matter what entity ends up controlling these schools.

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