New program aims to reach younger kids for suicide prevention
HELENA – A new program in East Helena Public Schools is hoping to prevent youth suicide by starting education much sooner.
The program is called the Good Behavior Game by Paxis Institute and was made possible by grants from American Chemet and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Montana totaling $15,000.
All East Helena teachers in grades kindergarten through third grade have been trained for the new program.
The Paxis Institute website says the Good Behavior Game is not a classroom behavior program, but rather a way to integrate cognitive, emotional and behavioral skills throughout any part of the school day.
Ron Whitmoyer, superintendent of East Helena Public schools, said students will be given situational problems that may occur during school and will role play how to work out issues positively.
“You try to reach out to them early they build that resiliency and ability to deal with real life situations through early practice. We love public education because it gives kids a chance to be a melting pot and interact in so many different situations,” said Whitmoyer.
“We have this bravado in Montana that when something is wrong we tend to pull our boot straps up rub some dirt on it…and that doesn’t work with mental illness it’s really important to break down that stigma,” said John Doran, Divisional VP of External Affairs & Chief of Staff BCBS of Montana.
The Lewis and Clark library hosted a discussion on suicide prevention Wednesday night and will continue Thursday.
The meeting on Thursday begins at 3 p.m.
International research has shown the Good Behavior Game to be an efficient method for reducing off-task behaviors in the classroom, as well as increasing prosocial skills, while long-term follow-ups have indicated positive effects on a wide range of health issues.
As Yamhill-Carlton Elementary School third graders worked on math problem, teacher Kourtney Fjelland watched not only how well they were handling fractions, but also how well they were behaving. Most were concentrating, cooperating, focusing on their work and staying in their seats. In other words, they were exhibiting the good behaviors students themselves suggested and agreed upon earlier in the year, also as part of the PAX Good Behavior Game.
Medication-assisted treatment and recovery services work, but in order for the U.S. population to reach its full health potential, behavioral health and addiction treatment providers need to go on the offensive, U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, MD, MBA, told attendees at the National Council for Behavioral Health Conference on Tuesday in Seattle.
“We are asking students to change a belief system without changing the situation around them.”