Archive for Sunday, April 29, 2007

Reaching out

April 29, 2007


To the editor:

The April 24 Journal-World editorial discusses a conundrum frequently faced by mental health professionals, families and law enforcement: loss of an individual's civil rights for something that might happen. The tragedy at Virginia Tech forces our attention on this problem.

When I was in college, we studied the system of "prophylactic justice" practiced in the Soviet Union and were thankful for the rights guaranteed in our Constitution. How we balance public safety with cherished rights seems an impossible question. What then is to be done?

There are other preventative measures that can have a much greater impact. The Douglas County community has embraced the Bert Nash WRAP program, which places mental health clinicians in our schools. While the importance of school-based mental health programs is well known, less than 10 percent of our nation's schools have school-based programs. WRAP has successfully intervened in what would have been tragic events.

At least as important, WRAP provides early prevention through identifying children who are in trouble and providing services to them and their families. More than 3,000 school children receive services through WRAP every year. Bert Nash also provides staff at Lawrence schools therapeutic classrooms, Success by 6 and the Juvenile Detention Center, as well as a variety of direct services for children and their families.

As individual residents, we can reach out to the child who feels bullied, engage the child who appears isolated, encourage the child who seems to have lost hope and never be afraid to get professional assistance.

David E. Johnson, CEO, Bert Nash

Community Mental Health Center


paladin 10 years, 8 months ago

I think that a conundrum is what the Sisters get tagether n beat on ta call folks ta church, when the bell's broke. Prophylactic justice is when some cocky, freckly face teenager is afeard he done got the ugliest girl in school in trouble.

Raiden 10 years, 8 months ago

The WRAP program is a good program however I would ask the CEO why, if he wants to tout it to the public, they don't find their own money to fund these devoted, compassionate workers full-time, one per school. Taking money from the school district is foul play when there are counselors who are needed full-time per school. I like t the WRAP program. It helps a lot of kids, but the CEO didn't tell you that they split workers between schools. This division of time makes them mental health firepersons who run between schools putting out fires and leaves them little time to do the preventative work he mentioned. And at year's end the WRAP workers anxiously await news of the status of their jobs the next year. The job is stressful enough without that added burden.

Because Bert Nash didn't find a way to fully fund their WRAP workers district counselors also anxiously await news of their job status for next year. The funds for both is the same pool of money. Yes the schools benefit, but the principals have no purview over WRAP workers because they aren't school employees . Due to program funding there is a bit of antipathy between some counselors and WRAP.

The ultimate tragedy is there are enough high-needs kids in the district to keep the WRAP workers and counselors busy full-time with one of each per school. People don't want to believe there are that many kids in need of support, but it's true. The school board has responsibility in this because they continue to NOT fund full time counselors. The school board needs to WAKE UP to the truth. The counselors are also devoted, compassionate people. It's an equally stressful job and leaving them to wonder about their jobs is a travesty. Whether WRAP workers or counselors, it's no way to treat professionals with masters degrees who work hard for insufficient pay.

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