Compact launches new project to boost mental health outcomes in OKCPS
T he OKC Schools Compact, of which the Chamber is a founding member, launched its newest program that seeks to place evidence- based social and emotional learning programs in the schools that need them the most. The program, known as EmbraceOKC, will focus on the mental health outcomes of students in the Oklahoma City Public School District. The initial work began with an effort to collect data to establish a benchmark of the overall emotional health of the district. In fall 2017, all students in the sixth, eighth, 10th and 12th grades took the Oklahoma Prevention Needs Assessment (OPNA), an anonymous survey administered statewide by the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services. Information from OPNA can help identify early signs of substance use and mental health patterns, capture the risk level for problem behaviors and provide data for planning the selection of evidence-based practices. In OKCPS, more than 7,000 students from 55 school sites responded to the survey, an 80 percent participation rate overall.
After the survey data was collected and analyzed by a third party agency that works with 23 other states, a planning team with representatives from Oklahoma City Public Schools, the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services and the United Way of Central Oklahoma began meeting to identify priorities and develop recommendations. Their goal was to develop a comprehensive mental health plan with the understanding that addiction and other behavioral disorders are driven by the presence or risk factors in one or more domain – individual, peer, family, school or community. The strategies behind Embrace OKC aim to reduce risk across all domains. The initial survey showed that EmbraceOKC and OKCPS should create prevention and intervention services that focus on three areas of risk: • High-risk behavior, or involvement in behaviors that are counter to the community’s values, safety of the community or healthy attachment/ relationships
THE POINT - OCTOBER 2018 16www.okcchamber.com
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