Bay District Schools seeks to provide students with more mental health resources


PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB)– Bay District School officials are working to provide more resources for the mental health and wellbeing of their 4th- 12th-grade students, many of which experienced adversity from Hurricane Michael and now are weathering the pandemic.

“With back-to-back traumatic events it’s hard for students to come back to the classroom and bring their best,” said Dawn Capes, Director of Bay District Schools Student Wellness Programs.

One of the resources the district is seeking to provide a screening that will assess the emotional and social well-being of students.

In an effort to provide this, the school system has sent home a written form to parents asking for permission.

The screening will be online, and students will answer confidential questions surrounding their mental health, the goal is to identify students who may be suffering in silence.

“Some students, they kind of internalize that within themselves so we want to find those students and identify who needs help and how can we help them,” Capes said.

Capes said they piloted the program at Lucille Moore Elementary, and the results were successful.

“What spoke to me about one of our pilots at one of our schools is that there was a student who took the survey, this was a quiet student who was very compliant in the classroom with good grades, and it revealed there was a need for support there,” Capes said.

The second part of the form asks for permission to provide both social and emotional support to students who’s screenings show they may benefit from it.

“Once we identify students then we can start working with our professionals at the schools and every school has a group of professionals who can provide immediate support to the student,” Capes said.

The third part of the consent form asks for consent for Medicaid reimbursement if it may be necessary to treat the needs of a student.

Capes said the school district began sending out consent forms yesterday, and is hoping to have them returned before Thanksgiving Break as she hopes the school district will begin to screen students after Thanksgiving Break.

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