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2017-6-9

Law requires mental health training for school counselors

By Will Thomas, VCU Capital News Service

RICHMOND — More than 20 percent of children in the U.S. have or have had depression or other serious mental disorder, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.

Soon, school counselors in Virginia will be in a better position to help identify students with such problems. Beginning July 1, a new state lawwill require school counselors to receive more training in the recognition of mental health disorders and behavioral distress.

“Mental health can get better with intervention. Without identifying it, it will only get worse,” said Dr. Donna Dockery,the director of clinical practice in the counseling and special education department at Virginia Commonwealth University.

Senate Bill 1117 was sponsored by two Democrats from Northern Virginia – Sen. Jeremy McPikeof Prince William County and Del. Vivian Wattsof Fairfax County. It states that anyone “seeking initial licensure or renewal of a license with an endorsement as a school counselor shall complete training in the recognition of mental health disorder and behavioral distress, including depression, trauma, violence, youth suicide, and substance abuse.”

The law strengthens the Virginia Department of Education’s existing regulations for school counselors. Dockery said it’s important that counselors be able to recognize the signs of mental illness.

“We treat the physical pain; let’s treat the mental pain,” she said.

Dockery said young people today often have a lot of anxiety and must deal with traumatic events. With the help of counselors and families recognizing these situations, students can get the help they need.

McPike’s legislative assistant, Devin Cabot, said that under the new law, the state will establish guidelines for the mental health training that school counselors must complete.

“We are very focused on the new trends of bullying and teen suicide,” Cabot said.

In the past, Cabot said, school counselors in different school districts might have received different training. McPike’s legislation will provide a more uniform approach, she said.

Local school officials are taking measures to educate themselves about the new law.

Chris Whitley is the public information officer for Hanover County Public Schools. Hanover school officials are waiting on guidance from the Virginia Department of Education before moving forward, Whitley said.

School districts will be affected by more than a dozen bills that were approved by the General Assembly during its 2017 session and signed into law by Gov. Terry McAuliffe.

The Virginia Department of Education is working to ensure that school divisions are aware of the new laws.

VCU Health CMH receives Get With The Guidelines-Stroke Gold Plus Quality Achievement Award with Target: Stroke Honor Roll Elite

American Heart Association recognizes VCU Health Community Memorial Hospital’s commitment to quality stroke care

South Hill, June 1, 2017 ― VCU Health Community Memorial Hospital received the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s Get With The Guidelines®-Stroke Gold Plus Quality Achievement Award with Target: StrokeSM Honor Roll Elite. The award recognizes the hospital’s commitment to providing the most appropriate stroke treatment according to nationally recognized, research-based guidelines based on the latest scientific evidence.

Hospitals must achieve 85 percent or higher adherence to all Get With The Guidelines-Stroke achievement indicators for two or more consecutive 12-month periods and achieve 75 percent or higher compliance with five of eight Get With The Guidelines-Stroke Quality measures to receive the Gold Plus Quality Achievement Award.

To qualify for the Target: Stroke Honor Roll Elite, hospitals must meet quality measures developed to reduce the time between the patient’s arrival at the hospital and treatment with the clot-buster tissue plasminogen activator, ortPA, the only drug approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat ischemic stroke. If given intravenously in the first three hours after the start of stroke symptoms, tPA has been shown to significantly reduce the effects of stroke and lessen the chance of permanent disability. VCU Health CMH earned the award by meeting specific quality achievement measures for the diagnosis and treatment of stroke patients at a set level for a designated period.

These quality measures are designed to help hospital teams follow the most up-to-date, evidence-based guidelines with the goal of speeding recovery and reducing death and disability for stroke patients.

 “A stroke patient loses 1.9 million neurons each minute stroke treatment is delayed. This recognition further demonstrates our commitment to delivering advanced stroke treatments to patients quickly and safely,” saidVickey Morgan, VCU Health CMH RN, BSN, Stroke Program Coordinator.

“VCU Health CMHcontinues to strive for excellence in the acute treatment of stroke patients. The recognition from the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s Get With The Guidelines-Stroke further reinforces our team’s hard work.”

“The American Heart Association and American Stroke Association recognize VCU Health CMH for its commitment to stroke care,” said Paul Heidenreich, M.D., M.S., national chairman of the Get With The Guidelines Steering Committee and Professor of Medicine at Stanford University. “Research has shown there are benefits to patients who are treated at hospitals that have adopted the Get With The Guidelines program.”

Get With The Guidelines®-S puts the expertise of the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association to work for hospitals nationwide, helping hospital care teams ensure the care provided to patients is aligned with the latest research-based guidelines. Developed with the goal to save lives and improve recovery time, Get With The Guidelines®-S has impacted more than 3 million patients since 2003.

As a nurse and former stroke coordinator, Teri Ackerson is aware that every second counts when a stroke strikes. In May 2013, the training she used to help others helped save her own life. Ackerson’s left arm suddenly went numb, she felt the left side of her face droop and she was unable to speak. Despite her symptoms, Ackerson remained calm, made note of the timing of her symptoms and, with the help of her son, proceeded to get treatment quickly.

“Hospitals that follow AHA/ASA recommended guidelines not only know the importance to treat quickly with tPA, but they also follow evidence-based research that helps to determine why you had a stroke in the first place and report these findings,” said Ackerson, 46, who completed a marathon 26 days after her stroke. “Without the treatment I received, I would not have recovered as well as I did.”

According to the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association, stroke is the No. 5 cause of death and a leading cause of adult disability in the United States. On average, someone in the U.S. suffers a stroke every 40 seconds, someone dies of a stroke every four minutes, and nearly 800,000 people suffer a new or recurrent stroke each year.  

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