By SHERRY DIGMON
Escambia County Schools Mental Health Coordinator Marlo Young, M.S., was the guest speaker at the Gamma Omega Chapter, Delta Kappa Gamma, meeting Thursday, February 10.
In her role in the school system, Ms. Young is the “gatekeeper” and liaison. Referrals come to her concerning students who need help – and help covers a multitude of areas. She connects them to a professional. Fortunately, these professionals are often on the school campus.
Ms. Young was instrumental in getting school-based social workers in county schools. Ideally, each school would have their own social worker, but that’s not the case.
One serves the Neal schools in East Brewton; one serves Pollard-McCall and Flomaton schools; one serves Atmore schools and Huxford Elementary.
“We could use one for each school,” Ms. Young said. “But I’m thankful for what we have. It’s good to have boots on the ground.”
Those “boots on the ground” provide a real advantage in that students don’t lose time from school going off campus to an agency, and parents don’t lose time from work taking their children to see someone.
Ms. Young helps provide social workers, counselors and educators with tools and strategies to help kids.
“I also help raise awareness,” she said. “Mental health is as important as physical health.”
Part of raising awareness is community involvement. The first week in May is Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week, and in May 2021, Ms. Young held a community mental health awareness walk from the old YMCA building to Tom Byrne Park. A balloon release was also held at Escambia County Middle School.
“Mental health is all of our business,” she said.
While she tries to reach the community, Ms. Young’s focus is the kids in school.
“I want the kids to realize it’s OK to talk with someone,” Ms. Young said. “Therapy works. Therapy helps children … Those kids really tug on your heart.”
Her words of wisdom to students could apply to everyone: “If you see something, say something. Help your friend.”