News & Press

When it's too much to handle: Mental health within the school system

When it's too much to handle: Mental health within the school system

September 12, 2014

By Diana Osipsov, LLMSW
Ionia County Community Mental Health

Ionia Sentinel-Standard

Whether feeling nervous about meeting new teachers, choosing that first day of school outfit, wondering what friends will be in which classes, or if there will be enough time between classes, the beginning of each school year is simultaneously a stressful and exciting time for many students.

Going back to school means seeing friends who were gone over the summer, meeting new teachers and peers, having a new schedule and a fresh start, looking forward to school sports and year-long activities and getting back into a daily routine. But for some students, these experiences prove overwhelming and daunting. For those who struggle with anxiety, are tormented by bullies on a regular basis or perhaps face uncertain circumstances at home, the demands and expectations of school are often too much to handle.

In an effort to provide support and resources to children and families within the school systems of Ionia County, and to coordinate the provision of necessary services, Ionia County Community Mental Health (ICCMH) offers a School and Juvenile Court Liaison program. Teachers, counselors, principals, athletic directors and other school staff who identify a student who may be struggling with a mental health issue, may be dealing with difficult circumstances in their home life, or may be having difficulty adjusting to school life for one reason or another, can contact the ICCMH school liaison, who will then meet with the student and family, complete a mental health screening and offer recommendations, and help the family navigate through the process of setting up recommended services or supports.

Children and adolescents may not always express underlying issues and concerns, but may present with symptoms such as anger, worry, dropping grades, withdrawal from peers and previously enjoyed activities, and changes in mood or temperament. If you notice any of these changes in a student, or have other questions about the School and Juvenile Court Liaison program, contact Diana Osipsov, LLMSW, the school and juvenile court liaison at ICCMH, by phone at 616-527-1790616-527-1790 or via email at

Most importantly, be willing to listen and understand, inform children and adolescents that help and resources are available to them, and assist in reaching out for support when it is needed.

Diana Osipsov is a Limited License Master of Social Work Mental Health Clinician who has worked with children and families for five years. She currently serves as the School and Juvenile Court Liaison under the Access Department at Ionia County Community Mental Health.