Panel discussion on kids’ mental health aims to fill SMSD parents’ need for information on tough topics

Parents and teachers gathered for the forum on suicide prevention in November. Photo courtesy Tracie Chauvin.

Social worker Tracie Chauvin has been with the Shawnee Mission School District for seven years now. And she says that over the past few years, it’s become clear that parents are looking for more information on sometimes difficult subjects.

Last year, through an exercise with parents at East Antioch Elementary — one of two schools Chauvin serves — the idea of a series of information nights on topics including substance abuse, suicide prevention and mental health emerged.


Your Child’s Mental Wellness and You

• Tuesday, Jan. 15 at 6:30 p.m. at SM North
• Free childcare provided
• All SMSD parents welcome

“Basically, what we heard parents say was that they needed more information,” Chauvin said. “Parents were seeing these issues not just in our own neighborhood school, but in the larger Shawnee Mission community as well.”

In the fall, Chauvin and parents organized their first forum with the organization First Call on signs of substance use among adolescents as well as steps parents can take to get their kids help. In November, they held a forum on signs of suicidal ideation and suicide prevention. And next Tuesday, they’ll host a panel discussion on mental health issues.

The event, entitled “Your Child’s Mental Wellness and You,” will feature panelists from Children’s Mercy, the National Alliance on Mental Health, Johnson County Mental Health, Jewish Family Services of Greater Kansas City, Kids TLC, the Health Partnership Clinic and Pathway to Hope.

The discussions will cover not only the signs parents can look for in children who may be experiencing depression or anxiety disorders, but also “tips and tricks and resources you can turn to,” Chauvin said.

“There is an overlap in the topics we’ve covered in all three of the forums so far,” Chauvin said. “The hope is that, for this panel, we’ll be providing info not just on what to look for, but on resources specific to your need.

Later this spring, they’ll host an event with Sunflower House on abuse prevention training.

The mental health panel discussion will be at 6:30 p.m. next Tuesday, Jan. 15 at SM North. Free childcare will be provided. People can RSVP to the event here. All Shawnee Mission School District parents are welcome.