southern highlands

Southern Highlands Embraces SHAPE

Feb 16, 2024 | News, Current Events

On January 9 and February 6, Katie Williamson and Marvin Lockett of Southern Highlands Community Mental Health Center (SHCMHC) met with the Leadership Team at Welch Elementary in McDowell County to review the School Health Assessment and Performance Evaluation (SHAPE) system. SHAPE is a public-access, web-based platform offering schools, districts, and states a workspace and targeted resources to support quality improvement of school mental health. SHAPE houses the National School Mental Health Profile and the School Mental Health Quality Assessment (SMH-QA) which help teams document and assess the comprehensiveness of the SMH system, prioritize quality improvement efforts, and track improvement over time.

The team deepened their discussion on staff wellness.  The principal shared how difficult it is to feel responsible for the wellness of school staff.  The school’s ability to offer incentives, rewards, and other recognition is limited due to lack of time, resources, and substitute teacher availability. Southern Highlands is stepping up to help. 

The team held a staff wellness event to show support for the staff who are working so hard to support the students.  This time of year is especially difficult for public school employees because there are no scheduled breaks until Spring Break, making it a very long three months. SHCMHC collected input from a few staff members as part of the planning process. The event included a free lunch catered by a local church and resources regarding self-care, mental health, physical wellness, burnout prevention, burnout recovery, and more.  In addition to these resources, SHCMHC offered a short presentation that summarizes the mental health benefits through WV PEIA. Southern Highlands is also exploring the possibility of creating an EAP (Employee Assistance Program) for McDowell County teachers as a way to support their mental health needs. 

The team also reached out to the community to obtain gift certificates and discounts that support self-care.  So far, the community has rallied with several options, including house cleaning and organization services, handy man/contractor services, restaurants, and laundry mat wash/dry/fold services. The team hopes to continue the momentum during the last four months of school by planning some type of event at each school.  One idea is to provide teachers a gift of “time” by planning an event with a coverage schedule so they can have an extra hour of planning with lunch provided.