Counselor Connection

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Kentucky School Counselor Mixtape

Listen to "Shine" by Rita Ora. You have a light within you that shines. You may not realize it but your students see you, your teachers see you and so do your families. Although you may not hear it much, your light is needed and makes all the difference.

Our students are concerned about their mental health and the mental health of their friends and family members. Here is a secret: Many of your colleagues have the same concerns.

How can you shine your light for others during this time? It can be as simple as a quick call, text, note or you facilitating "office hours" that allow students and colleagues time to drop-in to virtual meetings with you to express concerns. 

Suicide Prevention Lessons from the Department of Behavioral Health

Written By: Patti Clark, Ed.D, MBA, CPS, Program Manager, Prevention & Promotion Branch, Kentucky Department for Behavioral Health, Developmental & Intellectual Disabilities

On Aug. 11, during the Special Superintendent’s Webcast and at the request of our partners at KDE, State Suicide Prevention Coordinator Beck Whipple and I shared guidance on delivering suicide prevention during these next few weeks and in advance of the Sept. 15 legislative requirement that all middle and high school students receive suicide prevention information.

While COVID-19 has impacted the in-person start date for schools in Kentucky, reports of increased anxiety, depression and other mental health issues among students compels us to recommend that steps be taken now to address suicide risk and safety among students.

Mental health experts highlight that we are currently living in a crisis situation that is equivalent to the time after 9/11, natural disasters like tornadoes and floods, and other traumatic events. The difference is we have no idea how long this crisis will last. 

Schools can support the feeling of safety among students by providing students resources to:

  • Acknowledge their emotions of grief and loss in this time;
  • Increase their resilience and coping skills;
  • Identify trusted adults to whom they can reach out should they find themselves in crisis; and
  • Access 24/7 crisis resources (741741, Crisis Text Line; 1-800-273-8255, National Suicide Prevention Lifeline; or local crisis lines). Below is a power point with graphics with these lines you can share with students.

Students who don’t feel safe have an increased risk of suicide. Students who don’t feel safe can’t learn. 

Guidance from national suicide prevention experts supports youth receiving emotional supports in this time, rather than a more universal, prevention programming (such as Lifelines, Signs of Suicide, More than Sad, or other locally created lesson) that focuses on warning signs and risk factors and youth being gatekeepers for other youth. 

Utilizing the concept of the Brown Stanley Safety Plan, suicide prevention this fall should focus on supporting youth in staying safe despite increased mental health concerns. 

This recommendation is similar to guidance provided to schools in delaying suicide prevention delivery at least 6 months after the death of a student, giving students time to begin the healing process after loss, and reflects the trauma that many have experienced as a result of societal shutdowns, economic losses, and deaths of family and friends. 

Recommendations for delivery are:

  • Teachers or school counselors share developmentally appropriate video lesson with their students via their Google Classroom, Zoom, Teams or other platform of choice and then discuss the content using discussion guides that will be provided. 
  • Additional adults should be present for the delivery and should monitor the chat or other message platform for signs of distress among students. 
  • When students choose not to share their videos, school staff should follow up with the student by phone or other means to ensure the student feels safe. 
  • Parents should be notified prior to the lesson and should be given the opportunity to view the parent video so they may become aware of increased risk among children.
  • The lesson should be scheduled in such a way to give teachers a chance to have some initial “get to know you” time with students in order to recognize when risk for a student may be increased (2-3 weeks after school starts). We recognize this may bump up against the Sept. 15 deadline, however making delivery as safe as possible is vital.

One resource to support these recommendations is a new video series provided free to all schools through the Society for the Prevention of Teen Suicide and support from Kentucky, New Jersey and Washington. The “Navigating Back to School” series provides developmentally appropriate videos for:

  • lower elementary students (see below for login information)
  • upper elementary students (see below for login information)
  • middle school students (see below for login information)
  • high school students (see below for login information)

Additionally, videos are available for staff and include:

  • elementary staff (see below for login information)
  • secondary school staff (see below for login information)
  • classified staff (see below for login information)

It is recommended that staff view the videos even if the school has already completed its required suicide prevention training for the year.

A parent video (see below for login information) is also available and offers a way to increase identification of risk and reduce the perception of feeling unsafe among students.

To access all videos:

  • Navigate to:
  • Click on educators in the light blue box at the top of the screen
  • Click on online training; this will take them to the login page for the  
  • Log in if you have a password or register to create a login if you don’t.  
  • Once logged in, the videos are on the first row of training:  Navigating Back to School

A newly created training for staff also is available and focuses on support wellness and self-care for educators.  “Support, Control, and Structure: Self-Care for Educators” supports the social-emotional health of educators. Course topics include: returning to school, dealing with ourselves first, avoiding fear-based teaching, re-establishing connections with fellow staff and faculty, and trauma-informed interventions and practices for regular self-care.  This training is also available at

Staff must put on their own oxygen masks before attempting to support youth and taking time to do so before providing suicide prevention to students is essential. 

Here is the power point with notes used for the presentation to superintendents,. Below are guidance documents prepared to support delivery of services for youth and for staff. More detail on all of the above information is included.  

If you have questions or would like support in planning your suicide prevention delivery, please don’t hesitate to contact a member of the state suicide prevention team within the Prevention & Promotion Branch of the Kentucky Department for Behavioral Health, Developmental & Intellectual Disabilities:

You can also contact your Regional Prevention Center.  Contact information is included in the “BHDID Suicide Prevention Staff Student Recommendations,” which is linked above.

*There have been issues with the recommended sites, so please create an alternative plan to conduct suicide prevention training with students and staff members as needed. Recall that the law (KRS 158.4416) says, "The training shall be provided either in person, by live streaming, or via a video recording and may be included in the four (4) days of professional development under KRS 158.070."

KDE Releases COVID-19 Guidance on Tracking Participation

"COVID-19 Considerations for Reopening Schools: 2020-2021 Participation Tracking in Infinite Campus,” provides guidance on how to track participation for different types of courses according to the guidelines in the Daily Participation and Non-Traditional Instruction (NTI) guidance document.

Infinite Campus

Blended Learning Training from Infinite Campus

The Kentucky Department of Education recently partnered with Infinite Campus to provide educators with a training on blended learning. 

The new blended learning functionality is recommended for all schools to maximize flexibility for changes in student participation. Even if your schools are starting virtually, blended learning should be set up before the first day of school to ensure students can be realigned as plans change and participation can be tracked for all virtual students. 

To access a recording of the video, use this Zoom link

Password: !KYBlendedLearning8122020

For answers to the questions asked during the session, please click here.

August 20, 2020


Shout out: Waggener High School (JCPS)

Check out Waggener High School's Virtual Counseling Office! Way to go, Waggener!

Are you interested in creating your own Bitmoji classroom? If so, take a look at this Edutopia article.


UK Trauma

Trauma Informed Practices for Educators and School Personnel Learning Collaborative

If you are interested in trauma-informed training opportunities, check out this notice from the Center on Trauma & Children.


Grief Sensitivity Virtual Training from the Mental Health Technology Transfer Center Center

The Mental Health Technology Transfer Centers and the National Coordinating Office  are pleased to announce that registration is open for the two-part, no-cost MHTTC Grief Sensitive Virtual Learning Institute. 


too good

Free Resource: Too Good for Drugs Curriculum

On behalf of Kentucky’s Regional Prevention Centers (RPCs) across the state, the Division of Behavioral Health, Prevention and Promotion Branch are excited to share that implementer trainings for Too Good for Drugs can now be conducted virtually and there is no cost to your school!

If interested in having staff trained to teach TGFD, please complete the Notice of Interest or contact your local RPC (RPC Map/List). If you have staff already trained and would like to expand, this is a great opportunity to do that.

Each grade level has 10 lessons and also pre/post-tests that are linked for evaluation purposes. We ask that each student complete the corresponding pre/post-test if applicable.

We are excited to partner with schools in Kentucky and can provide FREE access to the Too Good for Drugs curriculum (training and materials) for your entire school. Training and materials are provided free of charge through the RPCs, however there are required components for grant funding purposes and RPC staff will discuss these requirements with school administration.

If you are interested in receiving more information, please contact your RPC (RPC Map/List) or complete the Notice of Interest.

Every Kentucky county has access to an RPC and when it comes to substance use/misuse prevention and suicide prevention they are the experts.  RPCs would love to discuss with you how they can assist your school and community. 

If you have any questions or need assistance please reach out to me or your local RPC.


Commish student advisory

Student Advisory Council recommends more mental health support during COVID-19

At its Aug. 11 virtual meeting, members of the Kentucky Department of Education’s Commissioner’s Student Advisory Council shared their ideas for helping students with their mental health when school starts for the 2020-2021 school year.

KRS 156.095 requires schools to provide suicide prevention information on an annual basis to all students in grades 6 through 12 either in person, by live streaming or via video recording by Sept. 15.

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Nourish to Flourish

The Positive Impacts of Adult SEL

As counselors, we speak about the importance of social and emotional learning (SEL) for students almost daily. Did you know that SEL is also extremely helpful for adults? Take a look at 5 Simple Lessons for Social and Emotional Learning for Adults from Edutopia.