The Meramec Valley R-III School District turns to outside specialists to assist students who show signs of depression or appear to be at risk of suicide, according to Dr. Jeremy Way, assistant superintendent.

Crider Center and CHADS (Communities Healing Adolescent Depression and Suicide) Coalition for Mental Health can help teachers and administrators identify students who might need special services and then provide those services.

Speaking at the July 19 school board meeting, Way asked the board to approve a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the two agencies.

“There is no charge to the district for the services,” he said, “and their services have been used.”

Some youngsters have a tough time in school and the district is dedicated to identifying a problem and acting, Way said.

School difficulties can range from problems with concentration, learning, language and perception to problems with behavior and/or making and keeping friends.

Crider Center works with a range of social service agencies that deal with family needs and can connect families with the resources they need, Way said.

CHADS provides professional licensed counseling service for students and family members when youngsters show signs of self-injury, bullying, anger, depression, anxiety and or signs of suicidal thoughts, he said.

Under the agreement, CHADS will implement its signs of suicide (SOS) program for middle school and high school students. The agency also will implement a screening program for mental health signs of self-harm.

The district’s goal, Way said, is to identify any special needs of students and connect the family with the professional who can assist.

“These services help keep our kiddos healthy and active,” he said.