Rise Up for Mental Wellness

Posted on Mar 28, 2018 by

Sometimes kids struggle with depression, anxiety, relationship issues, or another emotional challenge. Or they may know someone who does and do not know how to help. The Oshkosh Area School District (OASD), in conjunction with Catalpa Health, Samaritan Counseling, and a number of community partners, want to make sure that students can access the care they need when they need it.

GOAL: Help create a culture of
mental health and wellness
through prevention and
education in area schools.

CHALLENGE: One in five adolescents ages 13-18 live with or will experience
mental illness during their lifetime. 50% of all lifetime cases begin by age 14. Untreated mental illness can lead to quitting school, involvement with the correctional system, using drugs or alcohol to self-medicate, inability to live independently, and suicide.


The Rise Up initiative not only brings mental health screening and clinical mental health therapy to the schools but also aims to create a culture of mental wellness by educating, engaging and empowering teachers and students.

“We understand that mental health issues serve as a significant obstacle for many students in the district. We decided that if we are serious about making sure every OASD student is college, career and community ready upon graduation, we (need) to help students overcome these obstacles.” — Matt Kaemmerer, OASD Director of Pupil Services

In an effort to get more students talking about mental health and change unhealthy norms and culture, both Oshkosh North and West High Schools have rolled out Sources of Strength.

“Students from a diverse group of social networks are spreading messages of hope and strength. These groups run campaigns that focus on a variety of strength-based topics such as trusted adults, building resiliency, and thankfulness. The hope is that Sources of Strength will reduce the stigma that is usually associated with these topics, which will in turn lead to more students seeking support from peers or caring adults,” says Kaemmerer.

Other early successes of the Rise Up program include a threefold increase in the number of students receiving mental wellness screening; and school staff members are now trained on de-escalation techniques, brain development, and mental health symptoms that result from trauma. OASD is hoping to see a decrease in disciplinary actions and an increase in school performance for students receiving mental health services.

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