2018 Awareness Month Wrap-Up

The 2018 National School-Based Health Care Awareness Month was one for the record books.

Every February, the school-based health care field recognizes our accomplishments and raises awareness about how school-based health centers (SBHCs) are revolutionizing the way children and adolescents access health care services. This year, we tapped into a topic that is front-of-mind for many Americans. In light of the increasing need for mental health services for children and youth in the wake of our nation’s opioid crisis, the school-based health care field considered this question: How are SBHCs uniquely suited to provide care to the kids and teens whose lives are most affected by the opioid epidemic?

Your response to our 2018 awareness month was astounding, and we are humbled by the outpouring of activity during February. You facilitated official proclamations in your state legislature for the commemoration, hosted youth-led advocacy campaigns, shared your stories via social media and newsletters, and made your school-based health center staff feel remarkably special.

Awareness Month wouldn’t have been complete without our annual Twitter chat, “Healthy Minds, Healthy Bodies: SBHCs and Child/Adolescent Health.” Along with school-based health care advocates from across the country, we took Twitter by storm on Tuesday, February 20! More than 200 people participated in the #SBHCmonth18 chat, garnering 4.6 million impressions and reaching 1.1 million Twitter accounts. Participants included everyone from pediatricians and mental health providers to state health departments and hospital systems. Check out the #SBHCmonth18 executive summary here.

On Wednesday, February 28, the School-Based Health Alliance held two congressional briefings in honor of National School-Based Health Care Awareness Month. Child health experts from around the country shared how school-based health centers (SBHCs) are meeting the increased mental health needs of the lesser known victims of this epidemic – children who are affected by their parents’ or families’ struggles with addiction. And since the briefings, we’ve had several congressional offices reach out to the Alliance to learn more about the SBHC model and the Hallways to Health Act (S. 356/H.R. 1027), as well as our other legislative priorities. Even better? Members of Congress are now championing one of our biggest legislative priorities: the SBHC Authorization!

In February, the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) announced the availability of up to $10 million in funding for school health center capital investments. Talk about good timing!

Maryland

The Maryland Assembly on School-Based Health Care held a raffle on Twitter to encourage its members to celebrate awareness month. The Howard County Health Department even received a Certificate of Recognition from their county government to officially honor February as National School-Based Health Care Awareness Month!

Michigan

Our Michigan affiliate received a Governor’s Proclamation announcing School-Based Health Care Awareness Month, and their Capitol Rotunda even had an exhibit with story boards from their students expressing their love for their SBHCs. The Michigan School-Based Health Alliance gathered extraordinary stories from their young people. We encourage you to read about the power of SBHCs through the eyes of students on their website.

New Mexico

Awareness month was in full swing this year in New Mexico. The New Mexico Alliance for School-Based Health Care (NMASBHC) joined their Federally Qualified Health Center partners for Primary Care Day on February 7. On that day, NMASBHC educated their legislators about the critical health care SBHCs provide. The SBHC at Capital High in New Mexico also gave Senator Stefanics a tour of their SBHC—a great way to finish up National School-Based Health Care Awareness Month.

New York

On February 6, the New York School-Based Health Alliance and over 400 participants from across the state took over Albany to advocate for SBHC funding. Our national Youth Advisory Council member Fathima Lye outlined her experience on our blog. How did SBHCs in NY celebrate awareness month in their centers?

 

  • Charlotte SBHC created a Valentine’s-themed newsletter with information about the team and services provided for the school staff. SBHC staff even included valentines—each teacher received a newsletter and valentine in their mailbox.
  • Edison Tech celebrated awareness month by hosting a school-wide STD screening program in collaboration with their local county department of health. During STD testing week, students wrote on pink slips of paper about why they love their SBHC.  The students’ responses were entered into a drawing for prizes.  As a result, the Edison Tech SBHC got to see all the reasons why their students love them, which they proudly displayed throughout the school! 
  • School #33’s newsletter focused on awareness month, and they even decorated the bulletin board outside the Health Center to celebrate and describe who they are and what they do.
  • School #9 created anti-stress kits for the entire school staff to remind them that taking care of ourselves is just as important as caring for the students! 97% of School #9’s students are enrolled in the SBHC. SBHC staff continue to reach out to families that are new to the school-many displaced from Puerto Rico, to enroll them and work with the case manager for insurance and referrals to primary care offices in the community.
  • Freddie Thomas SBHC took the opportunity to promote healthy tips for its students. They used a bulletin board to highlight simple healthy lifestyle ideas anyone can adopt!
Oregon

The Oregon School-Based Health Alliance gathered student advocates on February 6 to storm their state capitol for their 11th annual Advocacy Day.

The students shared their heartfelt SBHC stories with their legislators to promote the importance of youth voice in access to health services and advocate for the health needs of their communities. On February 1, 2018, Oregon Governor Kate Brown officially proclaimed February as School-Based Health Care Awareness Month.

 

South Carolina

In addition to using the Bradshaw Institute’s social media platform to post about school-based health care throughout February, staff from the hospital visited the middle school SBHCs they sponsor. At each school, students signed a huge thank you banner for their SBHC providers that they hung inside the health room.

Again, thanks to all of you for helping us redefine health for kids and teens. We can’t wait to see what happens during 2019 Awareness Month!
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