FUSD Passes Suicide Prevention Policies and Creates Student Stress Committee

Best Foot Forward, school administrators, and FUSD board members discuss mental health at the monthly City Council Meeting on October 10.

By Staff Writers Stephanie Dutra & Anagha Mandayam

FUSD addressed the topic of suicide prevention in the district with the recent establishment of the Suicide Prevention Policy on September 14. The new policy deals with the prevention and aftermath of suicide and educates teachers about the warning signs in hopes to reduce suicidal behavior amongst students. Additionally, the Student Support Services department is putting together a Student Stress Committee to support the well-being of the community.

Greg Bailey, the head of FUSD Student Support Services, helped establish the new Student Stress Committee, which consists of students, parents, and teachers from across the district. The district used to have a large wellness committee which focused on eight different topics that were addressed throughout the school year. However, the staff at the Student Support Services office felt that a topic as broad as student stress needed to be addressed on its own, apart from the seven other components. The committee will be broken down further into two groups: elementary and secondary. This way, committee members can address the issues related to stress for students of different grade levels accordingly. Bailey said, “Initially, [what] we’re looking at is breaking it down into two committees; one secondary and one elementary to really focus on the concerns that the committee has. And then bringing it to the board and senior management’s attention, and really we want [to] have an action plan with this to see how we can best serve students.”

Various on-campus organizations work to alleviate student-stress and transform the campus into a more positive environment for students. For example, Best Foot Forward pairs up new students with a mentor to help them have a smooth transition into MSJ. A large amount of stress that new students have is due to the difficulties of adjusting to a new school. The organization pairs up the students in order to eliminate the feeling of being an outsider. Best Foot Forward President Senior Akshita Gandra said, “[It] helps a lot in terms of reducing stress by just making the campus a lot more supportive towards new students.” Senior Vivika Fernes is on the Leadership Team for Peer Resource, an on-campus class that lends a helping hand to students. Fernes said, “I think [suicide] is a taboo topic; same goes for mental health. Just getting people to talk about it and realizing that there are people going through it, you’re not just the only one going through this mental health disorder.”

The board is aware of this situation and  Bailey said, “… Sometimes the term suicide will automatically get people to shut down. We don’t want that.”  FUSD established the new Suicide Prevention Policy, which will set up a uniform course of action for all FUSD schools, in order to eliminate this issue. Bailey said, “… We want everybody to be aware of the policy. I’ll stress with the principals to make sure that they do talk about this [policy] as a staff and about what their school’s crisis plan is or what the district’s crisis plan is.”
To contact Peer Resource, email peerresourcemsj@gmail.com. To contact Best Foot Forward, reach out to a counselor.

Photo by Staff Writer Gloria Chang

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