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New London schools chosen for mental health project

By Judy Benson

Publication: theday.com

Published May 07. 2014 11:39AM   Updated May 07. 2014 11:40AM

New London Public Schools has been chosen to participate in the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Training, Education, Assistance, Mentorship, and Support (TEAMS) project, which assists districts in improving school health services.   

The district is one of 11 nationally chosen for the project, according to a spokeswoman for the academy. It will focus on improving early mental health identification within the district and school-based health services overall, Julianne Hanckel, communications manager for New London schools, said today. A two-year commitment is required.

The district’s team consists of Miriam Taylor, director of student services; JoAnn Eaccarino, associate director for the Child and Family Agency of Southeastern Connecticut; Dr. Vijay Sikand, medical advisor for New London Public Schools and medical director for the Visiting Nurse Association of Southeastern Connecticut; Jennifer Muggeo, supervisor of health education and community outreach for Ledge Light Health District; and Leah Hendriks, supervisor, school health and maternal-child health services for the VNASC.

After taking stock of existing services available in the school-based health centers and partnerships with Ledge Light, Child & Family and the VNASC, the team will develop an improvement strategy, with a special focus on mental health services, Hanckel said. It will enable the schools to better monitor and evaluate school health services.    

While the project does not provide funds, it will provide out-of-state training and materials for the team. Hanckel said the project will help the district identify sources of grant funds and other resources to expand services already available through school psychologists, nurses and counselors.
 
Muggeo said in the district’s application that the strengthening of school health policies and practices should mean improved health outcomes for all students, but should also be a key part of efforts to combat health inequities.


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