Help and hope: SPS provides mental health tips for students starting … – Stillwater News Press

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Updated: September 7, 2023 @ 7:54 am
SPS Wellness and Trauma Response Coordinator Kira Frisby
SPS Substance Abuse Counselor Rachel Roberts

SPS Wellness and Trauma Response Coordinator Kira Frisby
SPS Substance Abuse Counselor Rachel Roberts
Starting a new school year is typically exciting, but it can also bring anxiety for many students – whether they are starting pre-kindergarten or graduating high school.
As families prepare their children and teenagers to begin the fall semester on Thursday, Stillwater Public Schools administrators and teachers stand ready to help.
SPS Wellness and Trauma Response Coordinator Kira Frisby said basic wellness tips are important when it comes to adolescent mental health.
These include tips such as getting enough sleep each night (preschoolers: 10-13 hours, school-aged children: 9-12 hours and teens: 8-10 hours), healthy meals, time outside, physical activity and limited time on social media.
“Establishing school day routines is also incredibly beneficial,” Frisby said. “Communicate with your child, their teachers and school. Listen and acknowledge their fears. Give them coping strategies for when they are afraid.”
Knowing when to ask for help is crucial, Frisby said.
“SPS has the most amazing school counselors and district counselors that are available when you have concerns that your child may be struggling,” Frisby said. “Look out for messages from SPS and community mental health professionals in the coming weeks for additional resources, suggestions and tips.”
Frisby said the number of adolescents reporting poor mental health nationally is increasing.
“That being said, we know that building strong bonds and connecting to youth can protect their mental health,” Frisby said.
All SPS staff received comprehensive mental health training this year, she said.
“We are confident that the more we talk about and educate each other regarding risk factors, warning signs, and protective factors, the better we will be able to support our students,” Frisby said.
Parents encouraging their students to become involved is also a key protective factor.
“Feeling connected to others is so important for mental health,” Frisby said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s band, orchestra, running club, scouts, after school programs, athletics. We even have a taco club at the high school.”
One of the biggest concerns SPS has, especially for teenagers returning to school, is substance abuse.
“Last year, we saw an increase in students using nicotine and marijuana,” said Rachel Roberts, an SPS substance abuse counselor. “This concern is not unique to SPS but a national epidemic.”
She said vaping is often easy to conceal and sometimes students do not understand how addictive it is.
“Marijuana has been a rising issue, with a major concern being how potent it has become,” Roberts said. “Often, these substances have 90% tetrahydrocannabinol (TCH), and this is dangerous for developing brains.”
Last week, SPS Superintendent Uwe Gordon sent parents an email with information regarding an updated substance abuse response plan.
“Thanks to the hard work of our Wellness and Trauma Response Coordinator Kira Frisby, we’ve received a sizable, three-year grant, and will be utilizing that to provide multi-tiered support systems to help assist students both individually and as a group at a variety of levels,” Gordon said. “We’re working to grow our already positive culture, learn more about each other and communicate better, both internally and externally.”
SPS school counselor Lindy Zamborsky will oversee the grant, a Multi-Tiered System of Support from the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.
Frisby said SPS is excited to begin the year with clearer expectations for both students and families, and they are focused on enhancing district-wide prevention efforts.
Families can visit the SPS Mental Health and Wellness website at, which has a wealth of information regarding SPS and community resources on this topic.
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