Education ministry says it is addressing ADHD, other mental health concerns in schools

Thursday, September 19, 2019

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KINGSTON, Jamaica — The Ministry of Education, Youth and Information says a number of initiatives are being implemented to address concerns about children with suspected Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) and other mental health issues.

Noting recent media reports highlighting these concerns and the capacity of the public education system to accommodate them, the ministry stated that it has already developed a System of Care under the School Wide Positive Behaviour Interventions & Supports Framework, to help children who are at risk for or are experiencing emotional and behavioural challenges.

Guidance Counsellors have been providing proactive and responsive services to students, parents and teachers, through their training in abnormal psychology and therapeutic interventions, it said in a statement today.

“While students with ADHD may have other disorders, the majority of students with ADHD have average or above average intelligence and demonstrate high levels of creativity. They however may not be able to achieve their full potential without a multifaceted system of care. This may include counselling, positive behaviour support, medical treatment and academic support. The management of ADHD in the education system is therefore a collaborative effort between the Special Education Unit and the Guidance and Counselling Unit,” said the ministry.

The ministry also highlighted the following:

Intervention and Support Services

There are three (3) levels of support provided to students with ADHD or other Emotional/ Behavioural Disorders in school:

1. Once advised of a student with ADHD, the Regional Special Needs Coordinator organises a sensitisation session.

The guidance counsellor is advised and a plan is devised for supporting the student. The student will also benefit from the guidance and counselling services at the school such as group and individual counselling as well as the School-wide Positive Behaviour Intervention and Support framework.

Where it is deemed necessary, a Behaviour Intervention Plan may be developed for the student. This is done in collaboration with the Regional Student Support Team (SST), the Guidance Counsellor, Social Worker, teacher or other relevant school personnel.

2. Students, who, despite the support provided at the classroom/ school level continue to have difficulty functioning in the classroom, are referred to the Child Guidance Clinic or service providers. These students may be treated through counselling, behaviour therapy, medication or a combination of these inventions.

3. Students may be referred for more intensive support in a special education setting such as a Unit attached to a primary school for academic intervention, if it is determined that they may need more individualised academic or behaviour support.

Students may also be referred to schools that provide this support for a period of intense intervention; after which they are reintegrated into the school system. For young children who are adjusting to the school environment, a shadow (i.e. classroom support aide) may be provided to support the Behaviour Intervention Plan. In rare instances, a shadow may also be provided to an older student based on a review of the case by the Special Education Unit based on the documentation provided.

Constraints

1. Students are often not referred for intervention and/or support as required.

2. Non-compliance of students with medication regime.

3. Wait time for appointments at Child Guidance Clinic.

4. Misapplication of regulations resulting in suspension and/ or expulsion of students.

Procedures for Accessing Support Services

Parents are required to obtain and present a medical or psycho-educational report to the Regional Special Needs Coordinator indicating a diagnosis of ADHD or other EBD.

The Regional Special Needs Coordinator (RSNCO) will then make contact with the principal to organise a case conference to determine the support needed. This should include the parent and the Guidance Counsellor, Social worker, Dean of Discipline as well as other relevant personnel.

The Student Support Team (SST) will develop an intervention plan, which is implemented with support from the guidance counsellor and/or class teacher.

The Regional SST and Regional Guidance and Counselling Officers will continue to provide support for the school/teacher/s with strategies and techniques for supporting the student. If necessary, the Student Support Team or Guidance Counsellor will refer the student for external support.

Additional Measures

Beginning next month (October 2019), the Ministry, in collaboration with schools administrators will begin a School Climate Survey to identify and develop the linkage between educational outcomes and positive school climates. This is in recognition of the fact that data collection is essential for evaluating the effectiveness of school and mental health practices.

In addition, school personnel will be trained in how to utilise mental health screening tools; sessions will be delivered to students identified from screening and tracking systems developed to ensure follow-up.


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