Because he’s a well-trained therapy dog for Brighton Area Schools, Duncan knows to go to his carpet or pillow when he enters a classroom. But one day the three-year-old yellow Labrador walked into the junior kindergarten class, spotted a little boy struggling with his emotions, and quietly settled next to the child who began petting the dog. “That child’s sadness melted away, and Duncan was able to get him back on track,” said MEA member Karen Storey, who has spent 10 years building a program in Brighton considered to be a first in the nation. By this spring, every school in the district will have a trained therapy dog in service—and the high school will have three—completely funded by the community. The “Pack of Dogs” program is one component of the district’s efforts to address increasing mental health needs of students, a problem reported by districts of all types and sizes across Michigan.
Members Bring Mindfulness to Schools – MEA members are in the vanguard of a movement that is bringing a practice known as mindfulness to schools across Michigan and the U.S. More than a fun extra, mindfulness initiatives aim to help address growing concerns about youth mental health as teen suicide rates are increasing and studies show more than one-third of American young people suffer from anxiety.
Breaking the Silence – School districts across Michigan are facing an alarming rise in student mental health issues, along with increasing rates of youth suicide. Read more about what some districts are doing to help bring the issue out into the open and offer students tools to address the crisis.