Board of Education Policy 8212: Mental Health in our School Community

The Niskayuna Central School District recognizes that mental health is a state of well-being which enables an individual to cope with everyday stresses, to work productively, to work toward realizing his or her potential, and to contribute to local and global community. As part of overall health and wellness, mental health includes: a sense of self-esteem and confidence; the ability to identify, express and regulate emotions; the ability to set, work toward and achieve goals; recognition of one’s creative skills; the ability to expand knowledge and skills; the ability to feel and show empathy for others; and the ability to create and maintain satisfying relationships.

It is recognized that student learning and development are supported by environments that encourage mental health, underscoring the importance of understanding and promoting mental health in every aspect of our schools – the culture, policies, curriculum and activities.

Integrating mental health education in schools enlists the active participation of all staff, including non-teaching staff and volunteers. Niskayuna School District affirms our commitment to providing safe, welcoming and supportive environments that promote a culture of respect and equity; embed social and emotional learning into the curriculum; ensure families, students and staff are key partners in mental health and well-being initiatives; and work collaboratively with local health professionals and community. In cases where a student’s mental health challenges overlap with or are linked to a medical issue, district confidentiality policies, policies for students with identified special education need, and other related mental health policies (e.g., wellness, student support, discipline (including alternatives), etc.) will be an integral part of the support offered by the District.

The goals of the district as relate to student and staff mental health are to:

  • Promote positive mental health for all staff and students;
  • Educate and support the school community on a variety of approaches that are culturally sensitive to support mental health;
  • Increase students, staff, parents and school community skills to recognize signs of mental health conditions;
  • Decrease stigma related to talking about mental health;
  • Provide support to staff through trainings including ways to recognize when students are experiencing mental health challenges;
  • Link students and families to a range of available supports;
  • Provide guidance and resources to parents/caregivers on how to talk to their children about mental health; and
  • Provide support to students living with mental health challenges, their peers, parents and caregivers.

Integrating Mental Education in Schools

The Board of Education shall promote necessary district-wide staff awareness/understanding of the mental health education policy by:

  • Reviewing, discussing and adopting the policy in public session
  • Annually seeking evaluation of the effectiveness of current policy
  • Supporting district-wide professional development on integrating mental health education into the curriculum

Adopted June 18, 2019