Amid increasing mental health issues in youth spurred by the pandemic, a new University of Maryland College of Education (COE) course is preparing school counselors and school counseling graduate students to better address mental health issues in Prince George’s County Public Schools middle and high school students.
The Build, Recruit and Improve Capacity and Knowledge for Mental Health in Schools (BRICK) initiative resulted from a $1.3 million grant by the U.S. Department of Education awarded to Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) system, which partnered with the university to develop the course, with UMD receiving $342,000 of the five-year grant.
BRICK, which premiered during the Winter 2021 term and is scheduled annually until Winter 2025, aims to help practicing PGCPS counselors and school counseling graduate student interns address comprehensive wellness and mental health issues and needs. It provides training in recognizing signs of mental health struggles and details resources available to school counselors for addressing mental health issues.
Among the topics covered in the course are challenges that students with adverse childhood experiences, including trauma, neglect and violence, face in school.
“If you’re dealing with depression, an adverse experience or trauma, it’s kind of hard to focus on multiplication,” said Natasha Mitchell, COE associate clinical professor and BRICK project lead. “Ultimately, the goal is that we have healthy young people and help those students be available for learning.”