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The number of children dealing with mental illness on a
national level is growing, with statistics showing that 1 in 10 youths will be
affected by a mental health condition in their lifetime.

 

Marion County’s numbers are just as staggering.

 

During a
recent community forum on youths and violence, Indianapolis Metropolitan Police
Department Chief Troy Riggs said mental illness is one of several issues
plaguing our children.

 

“Suicide is
among the five leading causes of death in Marion County,” said Riggs, for
residents between the ages of 12–64 and the third leading cause for ages 15–24 years
old — a rate 30 percent higher than the U.S. average, according to the Marion
County Health Department’s 2014 Community Health Assessment.

 

May is National Mental Health Month and the goal is to bring
awareness to and remove the stigma around mental health. IPS is helping to do
that through services available to its 20,000-plus student body, many whom face
a multitude of emotional disabilities. These students often display behaviors
that can significantly interfere with their academic and social development.

 

However, when talking about behavior disorders, students can
be categorized in terms of deficits and excesses: (1) not having the coping or
social skills needed or (2) having patterns of high levels of impulsivity,
aggression or anxiety.

 

Support services at IPS come in many different shapes and
sizes, depending on the need of the student. Some students require minimal
support through counseling that can be implemented in a general education
classroom, while others need higher levels of support in a specialized learning
environment.

 

In partnership with IPS, the Gallahue Mental Health Center
provides therapeutic services directly to our students and their families. IPS
currently has 10 elementary schools who support self-contained classrooms for
students with emotional disabilities. The combined effort between the Gallahue
therapist, classroom teacher and building level specialist offers stability and
emotional support that fosters positive student success.

 

In addition, IPS students have access to the Reclaiming Our
Opportunities To Succeed (ROOTS)
program, designed to support students who are struggling in school due to
significant behavioral or mental health concerns.

 

It’s important to be aware of warning signs that your child
or student may be struggling. Here
are a few behaviors to watch for to ensure you are providing the best care to
your student.

 

For more information about the support services that IPS
provides, please contact our Special Education Department at specialeducation@mips.org