Can School-Based Mental Health Professionals and SROs Collaborate to Improve School Safety?

Student Mental Health Needs

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Absolutely. During COVID forced remote learning, many struggling students were left to cope without mental health services or support. Because of this, schools are experiencing increased threats, violence, anxiety, and depression, which will only become more exasperated as this school year continues. 

Mental health services and school resource officers (SROs) can work together to support students and address this increased violence. Lightspeed Systems and Raptor recently led a panel discussion with Dr. Amy Grosso, Director of Behavioral Health at Round Rock ISD in Texas, and Chief Frank Kitzerow, President of the National Association of School and Campus Police Chiefs, to discuss this topic. A summary of the conversation is below. Watch the full webinar here. 

How Can Schools Support Student Mental Health Needs?

According to Dr. Grosso, it begins with increasing mental health support and the services schools provide to students, staff, and guardians. Training is also imperative. Staff, SROs, and teachers must understand the warning signs of a student who may be struggling. If they can recognize these signs and get them support, it can help prevent the situation from escalating into self-harm or school violence. 

Students should have a voice, too. “There are a lot of students…that want a safe and secure environment. How do we help them be engaged so that they can be part of the solution?” Dr. Grosso asked. Having an anonymous reporting system allows students to report concerning behavior that they see in-person or online. Mental health professionals, school staff, and SROs can then work together to assess each report. 

How Can SROs and Mental Health Professionals Collaborate?

“This partnership is critical,” Chief Kitzerow shares. “For the most part, the folks that are going to commit catastrophic events at schools work their way up what is called a ‘pathway to violence.’ Everything starts with a grievance. The way somebody processes a grievance may help determine how far along they [are] to becoming a person who’s going to commit a catastrophic event.” 

SROs and law enforcement investigate the threats and determine if there should be charges. Mental health professionals focus on the individual student and help law enforcement better understand what challenges the student is facing and where they are on the pathway to violence. “In reality,” Dr. Grosso starts, “it takes both [SROs and mental health professionals] working hand-in-hand to really get to the bottom of what’s happening with our students and being able to keep them safe.”

What Tools Can Support These School Safety Practices?

Every school needs a school safety ecosystem, which is a toolbox of various components that can help schools quickly and efficiently respond to incidents. The toolbox considers things like safety and security, response and recovery processes, and what technology or software the school will use to prepare for and streamline emergency response. 

The Raptor School Safety Suite is a valuable component of the ecosystem. Raptor helps schools keep unwanted entrants out, manage volunteers, and confidently respond to any emergency—all in one, user-friendly integrated suite.  

To learn more, contact us today to schedule a personalized demo.