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Published on Mar 10, 2020
In 2014, the Hamilton Township, N.J., school district was devastated by the deaths of several current and former students. The school system turned to Jeff Wellington, its supervisor of special projects, to make the district more responsive to students’ mental health needs. Wellington tapped into his years serving the most vulnerable students — and a reserve of empathy— to create a mental health “safety net” for students. They include a 12-step suicide risk-assessment protocol, a social-emotional learning curriculum, the hiring of additional support staff, training for staff to understand how poverty and adverse childhood experiences affect students, and other mental health guidelines for both students and adults.