15th Annual ‘Building Bridges’ Conference Highlights Collaboration for Youth Services

15th Annual ‘Building Bridges’ Conference Highlights
Collaboration for Youth Services

Poughkeepsie, NY… Over 250 school administrators, guidance counselors, case managers, and social workers, as well as several partner agencies gathered last week for the 15th “Building Bridges” conference at Marist College, returning to an in-person format after three years of virtual. The annual conference informs participants about programs and services available for children and families in Dutchess County, with workshops to increase knowledge and enhance relationships between schools and the community to improve outcomes for children and families.youth panel with caption

The theme of the day-long event, co-hosted by the Dutchess County Department of Behavioral & Community Health (DBCH) and Astor Services for Children & Families, was “Navigating New Routes in Youth Mental Health,” with sessions designed to highlight the importance of creating a collaborative network of support for students, families, schools, and providers. The event also featured breakout sessions with local experts on various topics, networking, and sharing ideas as well as having attendees’ questions answered and sharing feedback.

County Executive William F.X. O’Neil said, “There is such value in collaboration and this conference is a great example of that. I can’t emphasis enough that our youth are our greatest asset and our bridge to the future. It is our collective job to ensure our local students are getting the resources they need in and outside of their school day. Mental health and wellness are so important, and I appreciate our partners, Astor Services, Mental Health America Dutchess County, Poughkeepsie City School District and Marist College for putting this together to further the lives and wellbeing of our local children.”

The conference featured keynote speaker Marc Brackett, PhD, the founding director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence and professor in the Child Study Center. He led participants in an interactive discussion focused on the role of emotions and emotional intelligence in learning, decision making, creativity, relationships, health, and performance.pcsd 2

Diandria Williams from the Office of School Engagement at Poughkeepsie City School District said, “This conference is an amazing opportunity for educators, community agencies, and advocates of students to learn, grow, and be inspired. With this gained knowledge, we should feel empowered and responsible to implementchanges in our spheres of influence to support the mental health of our youth.”

The conference included two rounds of breakout session on the following topics:

• Supporting Neurodiversity: Sensory Integration Meets Emotional Regulation
Teaching participants about how to create a Neurodiversity affirming school.

• Pediatricians and Mental Health
Discussing the role that primary care doctors play in addressing behavioral and mental health concerns in children.

 She said, They said: How the prevalence of Sexual Trauma increases  Bullying
Providing data and examples that illuminate how suicidal ideation triggered by bullying is a major effect of sexual trauma among teens in high school.

In the afternoon, local students shared with the audience their thoughts regarding mental health resources within their schools and community, sharing their own experiences related to a variety of topics including mental health, bullying, school safety and the impact of social media on mental health.

Poughkeepsie High School student Jhanae Stewart, a participant in the conference’s Youth Panel said “As a student, I like that this conference gets the voice of students and their opinions out there, since we are the ones that experience school firsthand, we experience the real impact. I think this is a great listening experience for adults so they can hear what may need to be fixed to create a better community for students.”

The “Building Bridges” conference is an annual event. To learn more about the annual event, or the resources discussed, contact Briana Johannesen, Director of Clinical Training with Astor Services, at bjohannesen@astorservices.org or call (845) 663-6534.


Author: Harlem Valley News