WHS Youth Risk Behavior Survey: One in Five Report Being Bullied; Over Half Report Consuming Alcohol

October 9, 2012

The Watauga High School Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) results were presented by Director of Student Services Clarisssa Schmal at the Oct. 8 Board of Education meeting and some startling numbers were released, including almost one in five survey respondents saying they had been bullied. 

The YRBS monitors five categories of youth behavior: alcohol, tobacco and other drug use; behaviors that lead to unintentional injuries; sexual behaviors that contribute to unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases; poor nutrition; and low levels of physical activity. Approximately 1,130 students have participated during each of the survey’s three implementations in 2009, 2011 and 2012. The survey is anonymous and students are reminded that participation is voluntary. They are also informed that they can skip questions that make them uncomfortable. 

"We consider the implementation [of the survey] beneficial because these behaviors have been found to be the leading causes of youth mortality and morbidity, and, as such, monitoring these behaviors is of particular interest to [those] who are concerned with improving the health and welfare of America’s youth," said Schmal. She added that it would help Watauga County Schools determine the need for health programs as well as improve on programs already in place.


"I think we have made great strides. I know the ASC (Assessment Support & Counseling) Center at the high school and various things have been put in place, and we’re very appreciative to those strides," said Board Chair Deborah Miller. “But we do still have a lot of work to do, and a lot of times we desperately want and need the student input as well to help us know how to help and reach the students.”



Walk symbolizes moving from darkness into light

September 15, 2012

A walk in Saturday morning’s bright sunlight symbolized moving out of the darkness into the light for supporters of Ashe Suicide/Depression Awareness and Prevention Task Force (ASAP).

The annual event had a different venue this year as walkers took to the streets of West Jefferson, beginning and ending at Backstreet Park.

Speaker J.P. Jameson talked about the “frightening” statistics of suicide in Ashe County, with the highest per capita rate of suicide in the state, double that of the state and nation. It is a public health crisis and an ongoing community health problem, he said.

“I hope you see your neighbors supporting you and your path to the future so don’t forget but work toward a solution,” Jameson said. “I am happy to walk with you today and happy to walk with you in the future.”


Appalachian’s program for in-school behavioral health services to expand to three counties

January 18, 2012

BOONE—A highly successful program that provides in-school behavioral health services to students at Watauga High School is the basis for a plan to establish similar services in other counties beginning with Ashe and Alleghany counties and possibly Caldwell County in the near future.

Appalachian State University’s Assessment Support and Counseling (ASC) Center has received a contract totaling $247,093 for 2011-12 to expand the services offered at Watauga High School to schools in Ashe, Alleghany and Caldwell counties through a Title V grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families to the N.C. Department of Public Instruction.

The grant will be used to first study and then intervene with high risk behavior exhibited by young people in Ashe, Alleghany and Caldwell counties.

The ASC program is a six-year collaboration between Appalachian’s Department of Psychology and Watauga County Schools.

Dr. Kurt Michael, a professor in Appalachian’s psychology department, will administer activities funded by the DHHS grant, which will include needs assessments in each county, professional development workshops for teachers and administrators, and developing methods of intervention, such as an ASC Counseling Center in each county.



Appalachian helps teens through special counseling center

February 25, 2011

BOONE—Mental health services in rural areas are often limited, especially for children and adolescents. Students encounter many barriers to receiving adequate mental health treatment. These include access, transportation, stigma and finances.

Dr. Kurt Michael, professor of psychology and former director of clinical services at Appalachian State University’s Institute for Health and Human Services (IHHS), envisioned a way to combat these barriers and to provide treatment to students with unmet behavioral and psychological needs.

The Assessment, Support and Counseling (ASC) Center at Watauga High School was formed in 2006 to address mental health concerns at the high school by linking the expertise of Appalachian and IHHS-affiliated licensed mental health providers, Watauga County Schools officials and New River Behavioral Healthcare clinicians by providing students in need with interdisciplinary intervention.

Its success has been written up in medical and mental health journals since its inception, including North Carolina Medical Journal, Advances in School Mental Health Promotion and The Community Psychologist. A description of some of the ASC Center services will soon appear in The Handbook of Culturally Responsive School Mental Health: Advancing Research, Training, Practice and Policy, currently in press.


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