Ballston Spa school district holding mental health event for parents

PHOTOGRAPHER:

BALLSTON SPA — A former Ballston Spa employee who founded a non-profit organization to educate people about mental health, suicide and mental wellness will speak Wednesday at a Ballston Spa Central School District event on those topics.

It’s the first time in several years the district has done the event, said Stuart Williams, the district spokesperson. 

Obviously it is timely as everyone is working towards establishing our new norms and relationships throughout the school community in the post-pandemic world,” he said. 

The event will take place from 6:30 to 8 p.m. in the Ballston Spa High School library. People with children can register their kids for care starting at 6:15 p.m.

The event also will be live-streamed on the district’s YouTube Channel @ballstonspacentralschooldi8329.

The district Wellness Committee with support from the superintendent and building officials have been increasing efforts around mental health over the last few years, said Lisa Perrone, the district’s health education instructional teacher leader. 

Part of that effort includes having Donna Thomas of James’s Warriors speak to health education classes about suicide prevention. 

She also recently spoke with our high school faculty, and we wanted to extend the opportunity to the parents and caregivers in our community as well,” Perrone said. 

Thomas started James’s Warriors in memory of her son James Thomas who died by suicide in October 2018. James’s Warriors spreads the message “No One Walks Alone,” in hopes of removing the stigma associated with suicide while working with Dr. Jaimee Arnoff, a clinical psychologist, to promote tools for mental wellness. 

Thomas said she probably wouldn’t have thought about attending one of these events when her son was in school, but after learning more about mental health and the signs she missed when it came to her son she hopes to encourage parents to step out of their comfort zone and talk about a topic that can often be shied away from. 

“I know a lot of parents may not want to come to this because they think everything is great at their house and it may be but I thought things were OK too,” she said.

She also said this presentation will help parents recognize symptoms in their kid’s friends. She said common beliefs about what types of kids commit suicide —  no friends, a loner, wore black and listened to alternative music — are just not true; anyone can be trying to cope with mental health problems.

“Those were none of the things that my son was like,” she said. “I think sometimes we miss mental health because we don’t talk about it.”

Thomas, who has spoken in a number of schools, including Saratoga Springs High School, said conversations with kids have gone well because the discussion is open and honest. She seeks to bring the same atmosphere to the parent event. 

“I just want people to know that the more information they have the more they can teach their children and then they can teach their children,” she said. 

 

Categories: News, Saratoga County

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