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Linking to community services

Becoming familiar with community resources relevant to our students is one way to expand the range of services we offer, particularly in the area of mental health. Engaging students in the process ensures a strengths-based, participatory process and goes beyond the reductionist practice of creating and disseminating a list of names and telephone numbers of agencies selected by the teacher or program counselor.

Asking students where they already go for help and where they need more information is one place to begin. Whom do the students trust, and why? What are their fears about unfamiliar institutions? An inquiry process may yield valuable results and help inform teachers and counselors of services they didn't know about. It may also inform them about students' underlying resistance to approaching some of the institutions that could provide useful resources. Similarly, teachers and students can provide information to local community agencies about the needs of immigrants, refugees, and other potential clients, making them more culturally attentive.

The following documents offer guidelines for investigating community resources:

Research Community Resources for Mental Health
Community Resources template

The following lesson plans developed by teachers in the Managing Stress project give ideas for approaching a community resource project in your classroom or program.

Community Resources: Making Them Real to Students - Lisa Gimbel
Mental Health and Community Resources - Jeri Bayer
Getting Connected to Community Resources - Alice Nelson
We Are Change Playback Theater Leads to Community Activism - Lisa Gimbel
We Are Change - Accompanying picture story - Lisa Gimbel