Ms. Sarita Lee, Student Board member, and Mr. J. Scott Smith, Superintendent of Schools, are pleased to announce that St. Mary’s County Public Schools (SMCPS) held a student-sponsored summit, “Changing Our Culture – Building Resiliency”, focusing on mental health and substance misuse prevention. The summit was held on March 18, 2016, from 9:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at the Dr. James A. Forrest Career and Technology Center (JAFCTC)
The purpose of the summit is to improve mental health and build resiliency in our students while increasing awareness and educating our community about the risks and dangers associated with substance misuse. The summit generated discussion about steps to be taken at the student’s school that will serve to bring further understanding about the value of good decision making and personal resiliency. Over 160 middle and high school students represented public and non-public schools in St. Mary’s County attended the summit was led and facilitated by fellow students.
The Board of Education of St. Mary’s County has continually supported the education of students, parents, guardians, and the community at large as a key strategy in substance misuse prevention and increasing awareness about the resources available in our community to help prevent other high risks behaviors. For more information on the summit please contact the Department of Safety and Security at 301-475-5511, extension 32235.
The summit featured a keynote address by Mark Besen, Ph.D. of North Carolina. Mr. Besen is a clinical psychologist who has been involved in leadership and program design in large community behavioral health agencies for over 20 years. He is a national suicide prevention consultant for the QPR institute and has worked with communities, hospitals, behavioral health providers, states, universities and school districts in building cultures of hope and access to treatment. He has trained professionals and advocated for improvement in risk detection and treatment for behavioral health problems including substance use and other psychiatric disorders.
Funding for the summit is provided through a grant provided by the Commissioners of St. Mary’s County. The summit is co-sponsored and supported through several community partnerships. Supporting partners include the St. Mary’s County Health Department, St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Office, St. Mary’s County Department of Aging and Human Services, Walden Behavioral Health of Southern Maryland, and the Behavioral Health Action Team of the Healthy St. Mary's Partnership.