The West Virginia Department of Education and Marshall University unveiled a new initiative this week. It’s a framework a year in the making to address the wave of students flooding public schools who are coping with various forms of substance use disorders at home.
The state’s Department of Education worked for a year to build an infrastructure to support the mental health and social-emotional needs of school communities.
It’s called the ReClaimWV Initiative. The department published a web site dedicated to identifying partners and resources available as well as goals and plans to help address the crisis. The site links to resources and information about trauma, substance use, and mental health. It identifies partners and organizations that are working on various aspects of the problem, and highlights action plans the department hopes to take going forward. Resources are listed for educators, families, students, and communities.
Key partners including Marshall University’s Autism Training Center which houses the West Virginia Behavior/Mental Health Technical Assistance Center (TAC). TAC provides training and assistance and can help resources be dispersed around the state.
A press release from the department pointed out that the substance misuse epidemic may be the single worst crisis impacting students in the state’s history, and that it’s changed the face of education as teachers must now focus heavily on meeting foundational social and emotional needs before they can hope to address academic needs. The release also pointed out that the education system is often the only remaining comprehensive support system left in communities today.