BDS implements new trauma therapy methods in one local elementary school


PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — With many students showing signs of trauma even 17 months post-storm, Bay District Schools is continuing in its efforts to help students to cope and mentally recover.

Mental health professionals from all over the country came to Bay District to help train and implement a new mental health strategy in one local elementary school.

According to professionals, Northside Elementary School has seen an increased need for trauma therapy in their classrooms. Mental health professionals are helping to introduce two new kinds of therapy for teachers to use with their students.

“One is a proactive type of strategy, where you would do every day in the classroom, mindfulness, ways to calm down, different games for students to talk about their feelings,” Said Asst. Professor at Yale University, Dr. Elizabeth Connors.

The other strategy is a responsive kind.

“And then responsive strategies are when a student might get upset or need additional support. The teacher can first check-in with themselves, check-in with the student and then offer some choices to help them calm down and observe and respond to their needs,” said Dr. Connors.

This is the first school in the county to test out these methods.

“This really is a new model, a new project and  I would like to thank the school district for being open to trying new avenues because a lot of the best practices that we have used after other distasters are not really working as well as we hoped here. So trying these new strategies and looking at this with a different lens so to speak. Hopefully, we will be able to find some strategies that do work.” said Mental Health and Disaster Recovery Staff, Scott Sevin.

If the trauma -ensitive classroom project is successful at Northside Elementary, the district will be looking to implement it in other schools across Bay County.

“There’s already a number of other schools throughout bay county that are interested in this model and so we’re trying to learn a lot from this pilot this week and collect some evaluation data to see what we might need to tweak and make it more useful for other schools,” said Dr. Connors.

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