Freshmen at BDHS to have opportunity to be screened for depression and anxiety

August 1, 2018

Freshmen students normally suffer from a bit of anxiety as they enter a new school, but a grant the Beaver Dam Unified School District recently received will allow students and parents the opportunity to learn if there is more under the surface.

Beaver Dam Unified School District was one of 64 school districts in the state to receive money from the Department of Public Instruction to expand school-based mental services.

Donna Pivonka, district’s director of student services, said the $75,000 grant will be used to help screen for mental illness, such as depression and anxiety, at the ninth-grade level at the high school.

Beaver Dam Unified School District has been actively seeking ways to help the students to address mental health issues, Pivonka said. This is one more way the district will be able to help students.

“This is a population where depression and anxiety can easily be overlooked,” Pivonka said.

While there are programs in place to offer services for early education and throughout the grades with services, Pivonka said this will give the students a greater opportunity to key into the needs of students entering high school.

Students and families at risk will be able to take a 10-minute assessment on line called a YScreen.

“It will be offered to all ninth grade students,” Pivonka said. “We want to identify students who are in need of additional support.”

Both the students and parents will be offered information about the assessment and have the opportunity to sign up for it, Pivonka said. The parents will have to complete permission sheets.

Parents already may have clues if their children are struggling with depression or anxiety. Pivonka said some things to look for are: changes in sleep habits, slipping grades and changes in their friends.

If there is a positive screening, Pivonka said the parents will be notified. It would not be with a diagnosis. Instead it would state that the students are at risk and the district would help to locate local services that could help the child.

Children who take the screening and are not at risk will still undergo a debriefing and have their questions answered.

The testing will be done in October, and was brought up to the students already last year.

A case manager will be set up to work with the families, Pivonka said. Some of the students already will be working with counselors, but if they are not, the parent will be contacted about other services that can help the student.

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