Deer Lakes understands that students have a variety of mental health and emotional support needs throughout the school year. To meet those diverse needs, the district has built multiple layers of support into each building.
Here are the resources that are available to our students:
- Two school counselors in the high school and one each in our middle school, intermediate center and primary center
- Works within the district primarily with K-5, but available 6-12
School-Based Mental Health Services
Mental Health Liasions & Social Worker Supports
- Deer Lakes also contracts two mental health liaisons and a social worker
- Provides school-based and school-linked mental health, alcohol, and tobacco and other drug-related services
- Assigned to schools (three employees total)
- Student Assistance Program (SAP/ESAP)
- Psychoeducational Services
- Social Skills
Building-Based Student Assistance Programs and Elementary Student Assistance Programs (SAP/ESAP)
- Consists of principals, school counselors, teachers, administrators and outside therapists
- Identification of student needs through identified markers
- Consistent interaction with Allegheny County Department of Human Services to assist in supporting students
- Partner with the Holy Family Institute, which sends a representative to all SAP meetings and collaborates on mental health services
Ongoing Districtwide Staff Training
Deer Lakes School District understands that mental health issues can impact every student population constituency and every aspect of the system. As such, mental health training is a regular part of the school district's staff development. In the past few years, Deer Lakes' staff have been trained on issues such as:
The Stand Together initiative trains, inspires and equips middle and high school youth to take action against stigma toward youth with mental and/or substance use disorders to reduce negative attitudes, beliefs, and social distance between youth with these disorders and their peers.
SOS Signs of Suicide: An Universal School-based Prevention Program (ages 11-17)
Through a video and guided discussion, students learn to identify warning signs of suicide and depression. At the end of the session, students complete a screening for depression to further encourage help-seeking and connect students at risk with trusted adults. The curriculum raises awareness about behavioral health and encourages students to ACT (Acknowledge, Care, Tell) when worried about themselves or their peers. The goals of this program are:
- Decrease suicide and suicide attempts by increasing student knowledge and adaptive attitudes about depression
- Encourage personal help-seeking and/or help-seeking on behalf of a friend
- Reduce the stigma of mental illness and acknowledge the importance of seeking help or treatment
- Engage parents and school staff as partners in prevention
- Encourage schools to develop community-based partnerships to support student mental health
SOS also provides a parent webpage with resources, including a screening tool, information on the warning signs, how to talk to your children, and informative videos. A parent newsletter is also available for download below.
There is a Hope Squad group at Deer Lakes High School. The program's goal is to prevent and reduce youth suicide through public awareness and education, reduce stigma, and serve as a resource to those touched by suicide. Hope Squad members are trained to be aware of their peers and to watch for warning signs. Then, the members can provide peer intervention and take action when someone is struggling while also reducing the stigma regarding mental health.
Child and Adolescent Partial Program
In partnership with Wesley Family Services’ Child & Adolescent Partial Hospital Program, Deer Lakes provides day treatment services for students grades K - 12 at Deer Lakes High School.
The program serves children from various school districts throughout Western Pennsylvania with intense mental health and psychological challenges with the goal of transitioning them back into traditional educational placement. The program provides comprehensive mental health treatment including individual, family and group therapies as well as weekly psychiatric monitoring.
Students are referred through their home school district and/or local mental health providers. Student also receive academic instruction and support provider by Deer Lakes' educational staff.
Deer Lakes partners with the Highmark Caring Place to access the following:
- Training—Caring Place staff members provided training to district staff about the grief of children and teens.
- Consultation—Caring Place staff members consult with school staff in situations involving a grieving student.
- Peer Support Groups for Grieving Students—Caring Place staff members are available to facilitate a peer support group within the school for students and school staff are trained as group facilitators.
- Resources—A variety of written resources are shared with staff and the district also hosts Children's Grief Awareness Day activities.
As always, we encourage our parents and guardians to contact the district directly to get the most current account of the programs and resources that the districts offers.