Becoming a Mental Health Sleuth: The “Sherlock Holmes Skills” Every School Needs

Our student’s mental health significantly impacts school attendance, academic performance, social-emotional development and school safety. Empowering faculty with the “Sherlock Holmes Skills” of awareness, observation, identification and communication of the most common mental heath issues in school-age children will result in early identification of concerns, improved and timelier interventions, effective risk management, stronger parent collaboration and increased student happiness.

Every extraordinary child-serving professional can develop, practice and constantly improve her/his:

1) Awareness of mental health concerns and how these challenges manifest at various grade levels;

2) Ability to look for and identify the symptoms of some of the most common mental health challenges in the specific context of schools and classrooms and;

3) Commitment to communicating about observed symptoms with professionals and parents to get the earliest and most effective interventions possible.

This workshop provides the tools for establishing and developing expertise in these “Sherlock Holmes Skills” by providing participants exposure to the key symptoms, causes and interventions for common mental health concerns in school-age children including depression, anxiety disorders, trauma and stress-related disorders, oppositional disorder, conduct disorder, and attention disorders.

Participants will then engage in experiential activities to identify students with each mental health challenge, design effective communication trajectories and implement evidenced-based, behavioral and educational interventions to effectively support students. Using a project-based learning model, participants will collaborate to generate systems approaches to building Sherlock Holmes Skills in every school. Participants will receive a workbook of course materials and a matrix outlining the background, causes, symptoms and foundational interventions for each mental health concern.

Learning Objectives

1. Participants will gain an understanding of the widespread impact of childhood mental illness including the impact on states and communities when mental health concerns are not addressed and the results in Maryland from our state’s mental health initiatives.

 2. Participants will learn the skills of awareness, observation, identification and communication of the most common mental health issues experienced by school age children.

 3. Participants will be exposed to the causes, key symptoms, and both behavioral educational interventions for depression, anxiety disorders, trauma and stress-related disorders, oppositional disorder, conduct disorder, and attention disorders.

 4. Participants will apply the information presented to problem solve systemic challenges to improving the Sherlock Holmes Skills in school environments.

 5. Participants will synthesize the workshop experience by integrating professional experience; workshop information and the specific context of his/her school and/or district and design a reflective plan of action.