Every three years since 2008, the Thriving Youth Task Force, the local Darien prevention coalition convened by the Darien Community Fund, has partnered with Darien public schools to anonymously survey students in grades 7 to 8. Grade 12 of Darien on their mental health and substance use trends and knowledge. and attitudes towards risky behavior.
Data collected from the most recent survey, administered last February, will be used to inform community and school efforts to promote the development of Darien youth into healthy, resilient adults and to reduce risky behaviors. The results of this year’s survey will be shared with the community in a special presentation on Wednesday, October 20 at 7 p.m. in the Middlesex Middle School auditorium.
The event will also be broadcast live via Zoom and is free and open to the public; anyone interested in learning more about the most pressing issues facing our local youth is welcome. Registration is requested for in-person participation and required for Zoom at www.communityfunddarien.org/tytf-programs-and-events.
Georgette Harrison, Certified Professional Counselor and Director of Community and Clinical Partnerships at the Child Guidance Center of Southern CT, and Dr. Mitch Dickey, Registered Psychologist and former Yale Research Scientist, will present the survey results. A discussion with panelists, including Dr. Scott McCarthy, Director of Special Education and Student Services for Darien Public Schools, and Tracey Masella, LCSW in affiliation with Silver Hill Hospital, will follow the presentation.
This year’s combined survey included questions on peers, family, stress, mental health, and drug and alcohol use to better understand different groups of students and the fundamental, common and critical issues that they face. ‘they share. Mitch Dickey, a registered psychologist with a PhD in Psychology from Yale University, applied predictive analyzes on the 2,027 student responses to determine the drivers of reported feelings of sadness, anxiety, loneliness and depression by students, as well as their substance use patterns. The findings shared during the October 20 presentation will provide parents and the community with a clear understanding of these drivers and highlight concrete ways parents can step in to make a difference.
“Data from our student survey shows that parents are our greatest underutilized asset in reducing adolescent substance use and influencing their children’s mental health,” noted Emily Larkin, Thriving Program Director. Youth. “The Thriving Youth Working Group will offer free events and programs throughout the year based on the survey results to address these issues and how parents can better support their children. ”
“Administering the student survey through the community partnership with the Thriving Youth Task Force is an important tool for our schools to understand some of the social and emotional challenges our students face,” added Dr. Alan Addley , Darien Superintendent of Schools. “These survey results will help inform our ongoing efforts to provide a safe, healthy and positive learning environment and experiences for all of our students. “
The student survey was made possible by a grant from the Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services to address substance use prevention and mental health promotion in Darien.