PSJA Family Podcast – Voices of PSJA: Mental Health

(upbeat pop music) – Thank you for tuning
into this special episode of the PSJA Family Podcast, Voices of PSJA Series in
honor of Mental Health Month. My name is Sulema Solis,
director of health services. Joining me today are fellow colleagues that play a key role in
promoting mental health, and safety for students
and staff in our district. Thank you for joining us. Will you two please introduce yourselves with your names, titles,
and years of experience? – Good morning, PSJA. My name is Gina Saenz, and I’m the director of
counseling and guidance, and I’ve been with the
district for 22 years. – Welcome.
– Morning everybody. My name’s Roland Garcia. I’m the new Chief of Police for PSJA ISD. This June will be my first
year with the district, but I’ve been in law
enforcement for 27 years. – Thank you. Thank you, Ms. Saenz, and Chief Garcia. With COVID-19 pandemic
effecting everyday lives, today we’re going to talk about some of the behind-the-scenes
efforts PSJA ISD has taken to raise awareness about mental health amongst students, and staff. So, what are some are the ways the pandemic has
challenged our PSJA family, and what productive steps
has our district taken to help us cope, and
adapt to this situation? – I can speak on the law enforcement side. Sulema, just when we were in class, and on campus, we were able
to have that interaction with our students, with our staff, and making sure that there’s
that connection between us, and have some sort of contact. But, now, with the COVID-19,
it’s a lot different to where we’re doing
a lot of remote stuff, but at the same time, we wanna make sure that we’re visible in the streets, and trying to make
contact with the public, as much as we can by shifting
some of our patrol tactics. – Thank you, Chief. – And, I just wanna share that with the counseling department, our services have stayed the same, but we’ve transformed all
the services into virtual. So, with communications,
we’re very fortunate that our technology department,
Dr. Davalos and his team, they set up the counselors
with a system called Cisco Jabber, and that’s
a two-way communication, so the counselors are
able to call the students, and call the parents,
and then they’re able to reach back to them, and through
the campus phone number, and through the extension. So, communication has stayed the same. The counselors have also
provided still guidance lessons. So, instead of going into the classrooms, they’re posting them on Google Classroom, and then we also posted those
mental health guidance lessons on reference to anxiety,
depression, stress management. We also created a folder, and
we’ve placed those lessons on the eLearning Hub. And, then, we also
created another folder for our parent resources. So, there was two folders created. And, then, with the individual counseling, the counselors are still
providing individual counseling. The referral forms, like
if an administrator, or if a teacher, or if a parent is requesting
counseling services, the counselors are still providing that. If the counselors feel, once they’re talking to the students, that they have some mental issues, or some situations that they
need more professional help, then the counselors
are seeking out outside with mental health
professionals to help them. They’ll reach out to our outside agencies that we have partnerships with, which would be Texas
Tropical Behavioral Health, or Telehealth Program. We also have real close partnerships with Palacio’s Counseling
Center, Palmer Drug Abuse. So, we’re still using those
same outside agencies, and then, we’re still providing
the students crisis support. So, if any student, if they
have a death in their family right now, or if they’re
having just thoughts that they don’t wanna live,
or if there was an accident, a car accident, or
something in their family, the crisis support is
there for them, as well. – That’s fantastic. That’s fantastic. Chief, can you also give
us a little input of how you work together with
the counseling department, with health services, and how our three
departments work together when we do have a crisis, or
we’re made aware of a crisis? Can you talk a little about that, Chief? – Right. So, our intervention team, and I was about to touch up
with what Ms. Saenz said, our intervention team works hand-in-hand. It worked hand-in-hand
when we were on campus, but now even more so, because
we’re a phone call away to where my officers are
out on the road 24 hours, seven days a week. So, if we get a call at
three in the morning, they’re calling me, or
they call the teacher, or a counselor, I can send one of our
officers from the district to go out there and
immediately make contact, and evaluate and assess,
and see what we need to do for that student, or even the parent. But, all three of us have
always worked hand-in-hand. It’s a great partnership that we have. We all have our roles,
but at the same time, our support system for all of us within the three departments is really what makes us a
very, very good, cohesive unit that really has the best
interest of our students, and the district at heart. – I agree. I agree. We’re a great team. I know that when our
nurses have made contact with students, families affected by COVID, I reached out to your team, I reached out to Ms. Saenz’s team, and you have all made efforts
to try to provide emotional, social support for those families. You’ve also had your
team go out of your way to provide hot meals, since we’ve had some hot meals donated. You all also were instrumental in getting the meal distribution
as safe as possible, to provide that needed support
during this stressful time, because the financial struggles
that they’re enduring, we’re trying to help the
best we can, as a district. So, I really appreciate
all of y’all’s help. And, I also wanted to say,
Gina, can you talk to us a little bit about the PSJA
employee wellness series that we have going on
through health services, and counseling services, and
communications department? – Yes. We’re really excited about that because the counselors, we’re here
to support our students, and we’re here to support our
parents, and our families, but also our employees. So, there’s different
services that we have for our employees, that we have counseling for our employees. And, also, how you mentioned,
this is a new initiative when the Corona Virus outbreak came about, we felt that we wanted
to create this initiative called the Emotional and
Wellness Webinar Series. So, my counselors, together
with the nurses, Sulema, your nurses, and then also
our wellness coordinator, we’ve created these videos
to help our employees feel relaxed, and meditate. On one of the days, on Mondays, it’s called Meditation Monday. So, the counselors have provided
some breathing techniques, 4-7-8 technique, how to breathe, and then on Tuesdays, it’s Tasty Tuesdays, so they’ve also shared
some of their famous easy-to-do recipes, like
no-bake strawberry pies, and banana splits, and so forth. They look very yummy, so we
hope that the employees are really appreciating the different recipes that the counselors have been sharing. And, on one of the days, on Wednesdays, it’s
called Wellness Wednesday, and on Thursday, the videos that we share are Thankful Thursday. So, the counselors have
shared a lot of different activities, on gratitude
journaling, or gratitude jar, and these are just activities, again, so that the employees can feel relaxed, and enjoy these activities
with their families. – Thank you. I know, myself, have enjoyed them, and I’ve enjoyed the recipes. I haven’t tried too
many of them, but, yes, I’m really appreciative of all our staff that has put a lot of effort
into those wellness series, and continues to do so. You mentioned a few of
the resources, Ms. Saenz, that are available for our families, and staff seeking support for health. Chief, did you wanna add some, and then maybe Ms. Saenz
can also tell us, again, about some of the resources available for our families and staff? – So, now that we’re
conducting 24 hour operations, we do have somebody that’s behind a desk answering the radios,
answering our phone calls, so, if anybody from the
community needs just somebody to talk to, or
needs to speak to an officer, regarding any issue, regardless
if it’s a mental health, or not, they can call us at 956-354-2175. And, if they need help, we’ll go out and do whatever we need to do to get them, and their problem,
resolved, and situated. In speaking with Gina, those same Texas Tropical, South Texas, we have our contacts there, as well, and if they can’t get a
hold of the counselors, or teachers, they can
call us at that number, and we can get the ball
rolling on our end, and really try to address
it as quickly as possible. – Very good. Thank you so much. And, I’d also like to mention
our office is also open, health services office. So, if you’re having any COVID symptoms, or stressed out about COVID, if we can help in any way, our nurses are all available, also. And, we also have someone
in our office at all times, well, eight to five, and the number is 956-354-2016. And, you can reach someone there, and we can make contact with a nurse, if there’s any stress or anxiety, or any symptoms that you’re worried about, we can help, and we can try to get you the help that you need. Ms. Saenz, did you wanna
add any additional resources for the families and staff? – Yeah. I just wanna add, like I had mentioned, the counselors are providing
individual counseling. We know right now, at this
time, that the Corona Virus outbreak, it’s normal. We wanna mention to the
students, and to the parents, that if the students are feeling emotions, and certain feelings, it’s normal. It’s understandable. But, if it’s affecting
their life activities, or their learning process,
then that’s when we ask that for you to seek out the counselors, and we can provide that
individual counseling for your child. If we feel that it’s a severe issue, then we will reach out
to our outside agencies. Like I mentioned, we also have
a really close partnership with Telehealth Program,
where there’s LPCs, and psychologists, and psychiatrists that provide that counseling. We also have some wrap-around services, that, if the families are going through, and they need financial help, through sources for rent, or utilities, they need clothing, they may need shelter, the counselors can also give
you the help and assistance. – Can you provide a contact, Ms. Saenz, or a website, maybe, where
they can find these resources? – Well, they can reach the counselors at wwpsjaisd/counseling, and then we can give
them those phone numbers. The phone numbers, and that information, because it’s gonna vary from home to home. Some may need help and
assistance with rent, and some may need clothing. We have some partnership
with the food bank, and Salvation Army, so we
have different phone numbers that we can provide. But, if they seek out, and then let us know what
type of support they need, we’re ready, available to help. – Thank you so much. Okay. And, we also still have Telemedicine services available, as well. We started that a few years ago, and in conjunction with
the behavioral health, the mental health services, so, those are available through our website. You can find them on the PSJA ISD website under Telemedicine services, and the links are also available
there for mental health. So, did you all wanna add anything else? Any other closing remarks? – Just on behalf of the police department, we wanna make sure that everybody’s aware that we’re out there for them. We’re making sure that we’re trying to maintain that visibility. We’ve been doing birthday
parades for kids, for our students, just to make
sure that they’re still aware that we’re out there, and
we’re thinking about them. So, just, please, reach out
to us, for whatever you need. We’re more than happy to do that, just to get that smile on
their face during these times. – That’s wonderful, Chief. Ms. Saenz? – On behalf of the counselors, we just wanna tell the students
that we really miss them, and this is going to pass soon. And, the only thing that,
as a director of counselors, I wanna let the students,
and the parents know, is that, right now, just focus on the things
that you can control. Make sure to take care
of yourself physically, and mentally, and what
you say, and what you do, those are things that you can control. Your sleep routines, make sure
you get seven to nine hours. What you eat, eat healthy,
and just ask for help. If you need help, we’re here. You’re not alone. – Thank you. And, on behalf of the nurses,
as well, I know they miss you. We’re hoping that, this
too, will all pass soon, and if you need us, you can reach us. Okay? So, thank you all
for joining me today. On behalf of our entire PSJA family, I thank you for your
commitment to our district, and community. Thank you to all the viewers. Thank you for listening, and
remember we’re here for you, so don’t hesitate to reach out to us. You can find us on Facebook
at PSJA counseling, at PSJA health, (upbeat pop music)
and at PSJA PD. Thank you, and stay safe, PSJA family.

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