Mental Health Support
Jamie Smalley is our Mental Heath Advocate. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 720-561-4166.
What Is Bullying
Any written text or image, or verbal expression, or physical or electronic act or gesture, or a pattern thereof, that is intended to coerce, intimidate, or cause any physical, mental, or emotional harm to any student.
What Is Cyberbullying
Bullying involving the use of communication technologies such as computers, cell phones, and other electronic devices to support deliberate and hostile behavior intended to do harm to others. Examples of cyberbullying can be in the form of text messages, instant messaging, emails, threatening or embarrassing photos or videos, and any use of any social media platform.
Signs a Child Is Being Bullied
Look for changes in the child. However, be aware that not all children who are bullied exhibit warning signs.
Some signs that may point to a bullying problem are:
- Unexplainable injuries
- Lost or destroyed clothing, books, electronics, or jewelry
- Frequent headaches or stomach aches, feeling sick or faking illness
- Changes in eating habits, like suddenly skipping meals or binge eating. Kids may come home from school hungry because they did not eat lunch.
- Difficulty sleeping or frequent nightmares
- Declining grades, loss of interest in schoolwork, or not wanting to go to school
- Sudden loss of friends or avoidance of social situations
- Feelings of helplessness or decreased self esteem
- Self-destructive behaviors such as running away from home, harming themselves, or talking about suicide
If you know someone in serious distress or danger, don’t ignore the problem. Get help right away.
Signs a Child is Bullying Others
Kids may be bullying others if they:
- Get into physical or verbal fights
- Have friends who bully others
- Are increasingly aggressive
- Get sent to the principal’s office or to detention frequently
- Have unexplained extra money or new belongings
- Blame others for their problems\
- Don’t accept responsibility for their actions
- Are competitive and worry about their reputation or popularity
Bullying prevention efforts are most effective when implemented school-wide and designed to send a message that bullying will not be tolerated in schools. Well-designed bullying prevention efforts can reduce, eliminate and prevent bully/victim problems, as well as significantly improve the overall school climate. Effective bullying prevention also requires a commitment on the part of all adults to reduce or eliminate bullying and accessible reporting procedures for victims and witnesses.
Effective prevention programs may be implemented at the school level or the classroom level. The use of prevention programs may vary according to maturity level of students, grade level, learning environment goal(s) for the school, etc.
Monitoring data related to bullying is crucial to the bullying prevention efforts. Data shall be collected and may be evaluated through surveys, questionnaires, analyzing discipline statistics, and data collected for school social emotional learning goal(s).
All kids involved in bullying--whether they are bullied, bully others, or witness bullying--may experience negative outcomes including impacts on mental health, substance abuse and suicide. Parents, school staff and community all play a role in supporting our students when providing for their physical, social and emotional needs. A variety of resources are available regarding bullying prevention:
Expectations for Reporting and Investigation
All administrators, teachers, classified staff, parents/guardians and students should take all reasonable steps to prevent and address bullying.
- All students who believe they have been victims of bullying, harassment, hazing, intimidation or threatening behavior should immediately report the situation to school personnel.
- All students who witness bullying are expected to make all reasonable efforts to seek the help of school staff. Failure to report such behavior is detrimental to the school learning environment and may be grounds for disciplinary consequences.
- All administrators, teachers, and classified staff who receive reports of and/or witness student bullying, in any circumstance, shall immediately take appropriate action to stop the behavior. Such behaviors shall be reported to school administration. In addition, school administrators shall communicate with parents of all students involved, alleged victims, alleged bullies, and witnesses.
- Each school administrator shall ensure that reports of bullying are promptly and thoroughly investigated in accordance with the guidelines in JDHB-E and applicable law. Administrators are directed to attend to the needs of the victim(s) of the behavior as well as to the needs of the alleged bully(s). Interventions or sanctions may be warranted, as well as addressing broader issues of school culture and climate of which the behavior may be symptomatic. A written summary of the investigation and its findings must be provided to the parent/guardian of any student alleging to have bullied or been bullied and to the parent/guardian of any student alleged to have bullied.
- School administrators shall provide the protections and procedures (including timelines for investigation and resolution) under Board Policy AC and AC-R if allegations of bullying concern unlawful discrimination or harassment on the basis of disability, race, creed, color, sex (which includes marital status), sexual orientation, gender identity/expression, national origin, religion, ancestry, immigration status, the need for special education services, or physical characteristics, whether such characteristic(s) is actual or perceived.
- Notify parent/guardian that they may seek further review of the school’s investigation through Board Policy AC if alleging unlawful discrimination or harassment or through Board Policy KE.
- All incidents are to be documented in the student information system and any behavior or safety plan communicated to parents.
Grief is personal. There is no right or wrong way to grieve. How people grieve can be influenced by developmental level, cultural traditions, religious beliefs, mental health, disabilities, family, personal characteristics, and previous experiences.
What to Expect
Grief is not solely related to the death of a loved one. The symptoms, characteristics, and process of grieving can be similar after other types of loss (e.g., divorce, transition, moving).
Grief is often characterized by sadness, emotional pain, and introspection in adults. However, children’s grief reactions differ according to age and developmental level:
What should I look for?
Regressive behaviors, decreased verbalization, increased anxiety
Decreased academic performance, attention/concentration, and attendance; irritability, aggression, and disruptive behaviors; somatic complaints; sleep/eating disturbances; social withdrawal; guilt, depression, and anxiety; repeated re-telling of the event
Middle and High School
Decreased academic performance, attention/concentration, and attendance; avoidance, withdrawal, high risk behaviors or substance abuse, difficulty with peer relations, nightmares, flashbacks, emotional numbing or depression
Grieving does not have a timeline. Schools should be aware of anniversaries, birthdays, developmental milestones, and other factors that could affect students months or years after the loss.
Grieving involves meeting specific milestones. Individuals are likely to experience (and often re-experience) some or all of the following adjustments/responses:
- Accepting the death
- Experiencing the feelings and emotional pain associated with death and separation from the deceased
- Adjusting to changes and an altered environment that no longer includes the deceased
- Finding ways to remember and memorialize the deceased
Grieving is an absolutely normal response to loss – but more assistance may be required when someone shows the following behaviors:
- Marked loss of interest in daily activities
- Changes in eating and sleeping habits
- Wishing to be with the deceased loved one
- Fear of being alone
- Significant decreases in academic performance and achievement
- Increased somatic complaint”
- Changes in attendance patterns (e.g., chronic absenteeism)
Source: National Association of School Psychologists
Things to avoid
- Euphemisms when referring to the deceased such as “they are sleeping,” or “they went away”
- Minimizing statements such as “it was only your great-grandmother, (or dog, neighbor, etc.)”
- Predicting a timeframe to complete the grieving process such as, “it has been a month, you should be getting over this,” or “the pain will fade soon”
- Over-identifying, (e.g., “I know how you feel”)
- Too much self-disclosure (e.g., I lost my mom to cancer) as not everyone handles self-disclosure the same way and the focus should remain on the student’s grief
Things to do
- Maintain routines as normally as possible
- Ask questions to ascertain the youth’s understanding of the event and emotional state
- Give the youth permission to grieve
- Provide age and developmentally-appropriate answers
- Connect the bereaved with helping professionals and other trusted mentors and adults
- Encourage students to adopt adaptive coping strategies, particularly ones that will involve interaction with other students (e.g., sports, clubs)
- Educate teachers and families about what is healthy grief and how to support the student
Substance abuse and problematic patterns of substance use among youth can lead to problems at school, cause or aggravate physical and mental health-related issues, promote poor peer relationships, cause motor-vehicle accidents, and place stress on the family. They can also develop into lifelong issues such as substance dependence, chronic health problems, and social and financial consequences.
Substance abuse is the harmful pattern of using substances—such as tobacco, alcohol, illicit drugs, and prescription drugs—leading to impairment or distress with one or more of the following behaviors:
- Recurrent substance use resulting in failure to fulfill major responsibilities at work, school, or home such as repeated absences, suspension, and expulsion
- Recurrent substance use in situations where it is physically dangerous, such as driving while impaired
- Recurrent substance-related legal problems, such as arrests for disorderly conduct that are substance-related
- Continued substance use despite having persistent or recurring social or personal problems caused or worsened by substance use
One of the most highly abused substances among youth in the U.S. is alcohol. Youth engage in binge drinking more than adults do. This can lead to risky and potentially harmful behaviors, and many times substance abuse (60-75 percent of youth with substance abuse problems) co-occurs with mental health disorders.
Substance use, abuse, and dependence can negatively impact every aspect of an individual’s life.
The good news is youth substance use is preventable.
Protective factors may lessen the likelihood of youth using substances.
BVSD's prevention programming is focused on increasing Protective Factors and reducing Risk Factors.
The BVSD community is dedicated to health and wellness of the whole child, following the whole child model. Vaping has been on the rise and is being addressed through a multi-faceted approach between BVSD, community partners and families.
Know the risks of e-cigarettes for kids.
Have you seen your kid’s USB flash drive lately? It could actually be an electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) containing nicotine. E-cigarettes are the most commonly used tobacco product among U.S. middle and high school students, and USB-shaped e-cigarettes are increasing in popularity.
- Cartridges generally contain up to 20 mg of nicotine. The lethal dose of nicotine for children is approximately 10 mg.
E-cigarettes, or “vapes,” can explode and cause serious injury. Although rare, these explosions are dangerous.
Laws & Regulations
It is illegal for youth under 18 to buy or possess them in Colorado; it is also illegal for adults to sell or give them to anyone under 18.
The 2008 Tobacco Free Schools Law prohibits the use of tobacco products on school grounds by students, staff, and visitors. Tobacco products are defined as, “any product that contains nicotine or tobacco or is derived from tobacco and is intended to be ingested, inhaled, or applied to the skin of an individual.”
In Boulder County, e-cigarette components, including batteries and e-liquids can be disposed of at the Boulder County Hazardous Materials Management Facility.
To learn more about e-cigarettes, e-hookahs, and other tobacco-related products and issues, please contact Boulder County Tobacco Education and Prevention Partnership (TEPP) staff at 303-413-7524.
Suicide is Preventable
Most suicides occur due to some form of mental condition, such as depression or a substance abuse disorder. These conditions are treatable and suicide is preventable.
Know the Risk Factors
Risk factors are characteristics that make it more likely that someone will consider, attempt, or die by suicide. They can't cause or predict a suicide attempt, but they're important to be aware of.
- Mental disorders, particularly mood disorders, schizophrenia, anxiety disorders, and certain personality disorders
- Alcohol and other substance use disorders
- Impulsive and/or aggressive tendencies
- History of trauma or abuse
- Major physical illnesses
- Previous suicide attempt(s)
- Family history of suicide
- Job or financial loss
- Loss of relationship(s)
- Easy access to lethal means
- Local clusters of suicide
- Lack of social support and sense of isolation
- Stigma associated with asking for help
- Lack of healthcare, especially mental health and substance abuse treatment
- Cultural and religious beliefs, such as the belief that suicide is a noble resolution of a personal dilemma
- Exposure to others who have died by suicide (in real life or via the media and Internet)
Know the Warning Signs
Some warning signs may help you determine if a loved one is at risk for suicide, especially if the behavior is new, has increased, or seems related to a painful event, loss, or change. If you or someone you know exhibits any of these, seek help by calling the Lifeline.
- Talking about wanting to die or to kill themselves
- Looking for a way to kill themselves, like searching online or buying a gun
- Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live
- Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain
- Talking about being a burden to others
- Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs
- Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly
- Sleeping too little or too much
- Withdrawing or isolating themselves
- Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
- Extreme mood swings
Youth violence is a public health problem that affects thousands of young people each day, and in turn, their families, schools, and communities.
Youth violence is connected to other forms of violence, including child abuse and neglect, teen dating violence, adult intimate partner violence, sexual violence, and suicide.
The good news is youth violence is preventable.
Protective factors may lessen the likelihood of youth violence victimization or perpetration.
BVSD's prevention programming is focused on increasing Protective Factors and reducing Risk Factors.
If there is immediate threat to your child or others call call 911 immediately.
What Is Sexual Violence?
According to RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, Sexual violence affects hundreds of thousands of Americans each year.
It is defined as any unwanted, forced, or coerced sexual contact without the consent or against the will of another person. It can range from inappropriate touching to penetration. It includes the crimes of sexual assault, rape and sexual abuse.
LEARN MORE: Types of Sexual Violence
Sexual Assault 101
Make a Report
The Boulder Valley School District is committed to the safety and wellbeing of our students.
Victims of sexual harassment are encouraged to report the incident to an adult they trust, whether it is a school counselor, administrator or law enforcement. Reports can be made orally or in writing. Written reports can be made using the Board's Complaint form, AC-E2 or by email to TitleIX@bvsd.org.
The District's Role
There is no place for this type of behavior in the halls of our schools or anywhere in BVSD. As a district we are taking action to better educate our students about sexual assault, consent and prevention.
Sexual Harassment Policy
It is essential that students and staff members have the confidence that the Boulder Valley School District will do everything in its power to protect victims and to take action against misconduct.
Title IX is a comprehensive federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in any federally funded education program or activity.
Regardless of whether sexual harassment (that includes sexual violence) occurs at school, Title IX obligates school districts to address any impact of that conduct on students that interferes with their ability to access their education. This means that schools must provide students with their Title IX rights and the contact information for adults at school who can respond to allegations of misconduct and put in place interim remedies to support impacted students. If students experience harassment or retaliation resulting from the exercise of their Title IX rights, then schools are legally obligated to take action to stop it from recurring.
In terms of Title IX investigations, the School District is obligated to investigate and take action to stop misconduct that is impacting students at school, but there is not a strict timeline for such investigations. When the same allegations are being investigated by law enforcement, then the School District wants to minimize potential trauma for students by using information from law enforcement's investigation as much as possible. Most often, we do this by, among other things, using information in police reports, juvenile petitions, and information shared by the DA’s office as the substantive information for the School District’s Title IX investigation while also providing due process to the involved parties as required by the U.S. Department of Education rules and regulations governing school districts. While law enforcement investigations and any related legal proceedings are being conducted, the School District’s focus is on providing interim remedies to support students.
If there is immediate threat to your child or others call call 911 immediately.
Compliance Officer for students, parents and members of the public:
Most adolescents experience positive mental health, but one in five has had a serious mental health disorder at some point in their life. Problems with mental health often start early in life. In fact, half of all mental health problems begin by age 14. The good news is that promoting positive mental health can prevent some problems from starting. For young people who already have mental health disorders, early intervention and treatment can help lessen the impact on their lives.
Mental health disorders can interfere with regular activities and daily functioning, such as relationships, schoolwork, sleeping, and eating. If you feel your child is experiencing a mental health concern talk to your school counselor or nurse, or find additional resources at Mental Health Partners.
If you or your child is experiencing a mental health crisis call: 1-844-493-TALK