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Bridge Receives Grant to Address Mental Health in Youth

The Bridge of Central Massachusetts announced today it received a $56,000 grant from the MetroWest Health Foundation to address mental health challenges in youth.

August 2016

Pictured:  Courtney Balacco, Westborough High School; Sharon Buckley, Marlborough High School; Deb Guterman, Algonquin Regional High School;  Tom Mead, Algonquin Regional High School;  Barent Walsh, Executive Director Emeritus and Senior Clinical Consultant at The Bridge of Central Massachusetts; Jen Eaton, Director of DBT Training and Consultation at The Bridge of Central Massachusetts; Brian Callaghan, Westborough High School; Ken Bates, President and CEO of The Bridge of Central Massachusetts; Steve Murphy, Director of Training and Consultation, The Bridge of Central Massachusetts; Lisa Connery, Algonquin High School; Ali McCarthy, Westborough High School.

The one-year grant will be used to educate and train school officials how to teach coping and mindfulness skills for youth. Guidance counselors, administrators and others will receive education about common mental health conditions among youth and the behavior associated with those conditions. They will learn specific skills they can teach students using Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) and self-injury and suicide prevention. 

“School officials are on the front lines of addressing children’s health as increasing numbers of children suffer from mental health issues,” said Ken Bates, President and CEO of The Bridge of Central Mass. “Similar to the movements to reduce bullying and childhood obesity, schools can play a significant role in strengthening the resiliency and mental health of youth”. 

The grant is in response to the 2014 MetroWest Adolescent Health Survey that found  one in three MetroWest region high school students (35%) reported feeling “very stressed” in the past 30 days. The percent of students reporting depressive symptoms grew from 20% in 2006 to 22% in 2014, and suicidal ideation increased from 10% to 13% over the same period.   

The Bridge is collaborating with three MetroWest school districts – Westborough, Algonquin and Marlborough-- to educate school officials and impact on several thousand students. 

The trainings will be led by Jennifer Eaton, M.A. and Barent Walsh, Ph.D. Ms. Eaton, Director of DBT Training and Consultation at The Bridge, is a nationally recognized expert in Dialectical Behavior Therapy.  Dr. Walsh is the Executive Director Emeritus and Senior Clinical Consultant for The Bridge and is internationally known for his work studying and treating suicidal behavior and self-injury.