THE WISHING WELL: Protecting the next generation

When we moved into daylight savings time last month, we moved our clocks forward.

And less than a year from now our State Legislature convenes, so let’s hope these forward-looking lawmakers step forward as well.

Here are three proposals I would love to have enacted in 2019.

School guidance counselors: At a very minimum let’s require that every middle and high school in Oregon be equipped with a counselor trained in what specific stressors likely lead to violent behavior. Along with that, stemming the volume of peer pressure needs to be pursued.

Early signs of encroaching depression must be monitored and treated. If but one suicide is prevented, we all are the benefactors of an upgraded system.

Mandating CRP training: We can close ranks by demanding that CPR or first aid training be included as part of health education classes at all our high schools. Many students will be involved in driving before they graduate. Knowing first aid can underscore how teens are less than invincible. And it can lead to broadened compassion. Plus, it may lead to the saving of lives and limbs.

Local social work school: Oregon has but one grad school for social work students. Unfortunately, it is housed in Portland where rents are sky-high. A second social work school in the Salem area has many advantages.

One particular advantage is the proximity to Oregon State Hospital, which provides mental health treatment. Even more, there are state penitentiaries handling adult corrections, the Oregon Youth Authority addresses troubled juveniles, and Salem is the headquarters for the Oregon Health Plan.

Aging, disability and addiction policies are also shaped in Salem.

All of these provide excellent fieldwork for future social workers who can work alongside policy planners who can act to train them beyond casework acumen.

This helps this very important next generation of social workers to be even smarter and more effective in our state.

I believe they can even back up our corps of first responders when trauma sets in for survivors of the “big one.” We must ponder that terrible scene sooner rather than later.

Enacting laws that allow funds and programs such as these to move forward benefit our society as a whole because we’re taking steps to ensure that we look out for one another, and that we have the tools to do so.

As much as we’d like everyone in society to be mentally and physically well, we know that’s not always the case. Teaching our children at home and in school how to recognize warning signs, and how to step in during an emergency helps Oregonians be at their best. n

(B. Lee Coyne worked in the field of mental health counseling and was also a Red Cross debriefer in New York City following the tragedy on Sept. 11, 2001.)

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