Stamford’s school security guards are getting prepared for another school year. On Thursday, a group of the City’s middle and high school security officers attended a Youth Mental Health First Aid workshop run by a clinical social worker.
“It teaches our security officers to look for signs in students that may be in need of some type of mental health service,” says John Perrotta, Director of Safety and Security at Stamford Public Schools.
“They are being taught how to intervene if there is a mental health crises but also in non-crises situations,” says Clinical Social Worker Dawn Roy.
“The more we learn, the better we can help the kids in school,” says one security officer.
The Stamford Youth Services Bureau partnered with Stamford Public Schools to host the workshop at the City’s Government Center.
“The reality is that for young people, 1 in 5 young people experiences a mental health disorder in any given year and for adults it’s 1 in 4,” says Roy. “So we live in a world where, at least in our country, mental health and mental illness is part of our lives.”
Organizers say the security officers play an important role in the school system and students lives.
“They’re key people in the schools that are connecting with youth,” says Roy
“They interact with the students from the time they get off the bus until the time they leave in the afternoon,” says Perrotta. “They have much much more interaction than most of the staff.”
A similar workshop was also provided for 15 teens at Stamford High School.
“It’s the kids and the security officer, they’re the front line, they’re the ones on the ground everyday in the schools,” says Terri Drew, Director of Youth Services with the City. “And so what we want to do is foster those relationships in working together.”
Organizers say they will continue working to improve and expand the program.
“The ideal is that once a month we would bring the security officer and the teens together and then we can talk about the issues,” says Drew.
“If we could save one student from committing suicide or doing harm to himself or others, I think the program is worth is,” says Perrotta.