CEO Roundtable to discuss mental health, tobacco prevention

CEO Roundtable to discuss mental health, tobacco prevention

eearl@bradenton.comApril 18, 2013 

MANATEE -- Manatee County superintendent of schools Rick Mills will host his first CEO Roundtable meeting this morning. The top items on the agenda are mental health recommendations and tobacco prevention policies.

Mary Ruiz, the president and CEO of Manatee Glens, has been pushing for mental health screenings in public schools.

She is seeking a request for proposal for the Safe Schools Initiative grant, a federal grant of approximately $6 million dollars over a three-year period.

Ruiz said she plans to talk about the grant, the application process and moving forward with providing mental health screenings in schools.

In February, Ruiz said that these screenings would be for students entering critical grades such as third grade, middle school, and their freshman and junior years of high school. Tests would involve a short computer session and a brief, private one-on-one session with a school counselor.

Ruiz said that identifying physical and emotional well-being issues can impact a

student's success in school.

Manatee Glens is working with representatives fromthe Manatee County Sheriff's Office, local law enforcement agencies, the Department of Juvenile Justice and the Substance Abuse Coalition to identify issues with safety, substance use and mental health.

"This meeting will be a reprise for the new superintendent," Ruiz said.

Mills said that behavioral screening is done in Minnesota to identify at-risk students and put them in touch with services available in the county.

"We should look to see if we are identifying students that need to help what wrap-around services we can tap into," Mills said.

Jessica May of the Manatee County Substance Abuse Coalition and Jessie Hillman of the Manatee County Health Department want to update the new superintendent and community leaders on the tobacco prevention program and its importance to public health.

The meeting will be held at 8 a.m. today in the Manatee County School District's School Support Center.

Erica Earl, education reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7081. Follow her on Twitter @ericabearl.

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