Student Assistance

Student Assistance Counseling At Western Albemarle High School

The Student Assistance Program’s aim is to identify students in need and connect them with the appropriate services available within the school and/or community. The confidential services that the Student Assistance Program provides is based on an educational premise: Students who receive help and support to deal with pressing personal concerns will be able to focus their energy more efficiently on their schoolwork and the important tasks of developing academically, socially and emotionally.

Counseling Services: The Student Assistance Program addresses issues such as substance use and abuse, tobacco use, sadness and depression, suicidal thoughts or behaviors, relationship violence, academic failure, wellness/healthy habits, anger and stress management, coping skills, goal setting, grief or loss, family problems, parental divorce, bullying prevention/intervention and self-harming behaviors.

Mediation: Mediation may be provided to students in conflict as an alternative to disciplinary action. Mediation has been found to increase students’ ability to solve problems peacefully using conflict resolution skills. When appropriate, mediations may be referred to Peer Mediators who are trained in conflict resolution.

Assessment: Any student can be referred for a confidential evaluation of possible substance abuse symptoms by the Student Assistance Specialist who works in conjunction with Region Ten Community Services Board. This assessment may result in recommendations for follow-up and treatment as necessary.

Confidentiality: All referrals remain confidential; this includes those who refer as well as those referred unless the student is threatening self-harm and/or suicide, harm to another, or is being abused.

Educational Presentations: Informational presentations can be made to classes, athletic teams, parent groups, and staff on a variety of mental health topics upon request.

Consultation: Students, teachers, administration, and parents can access this free service via telephone, e-mail, or stopping by the Student Assistance Specialist’s office located in the Counseling Department.

Commonly Asked Questions By Parents Regarding Possible Substance Use

1. How can I tell if my child is using drugs or alcohol?

The following are possible signs your child may be using drugs and/or alcohol:

  • Negative changes in schoolwork; missing school or declining grades.
  • Increased secrecy about possessions or activities.
  • Use of incense, room deodorant or perfume to hide smoke or chemical orders.
  • Subtle changes in conversations with friends, e.g., more secretive, using "coded" language.
  • New friends.
  • Change in clothing choices-new fascination with clothes that highlight drug use.
  • Increase in borrowing money; money/family possessions start going missing.
  • Evidence of drug paraphernalia such as rolling papers and pipes.
  • Bottles of eye drops which may be used to mask bloodshot eyes or dilated pupils.
  • New use of mouthwash or breath mints to cover smell of alcohol and/or tobacco.
  • Evidence of inhaling products and accessories such as hairspray, nail polish, correctional fluid, paper bags and rags, common household products.
  • Missing prescription drugs-especially narcotics and mood stabilizers.
  • Changes in sleeping patterns and habits ranging from sleeplessness to lethargy.

These may also be signs of normal adolescent development. It is important to ask for help from a trained substance abuse professional if you have concerns about your child’s possible use of substances.

2. What do I do when I have a suspicion my child may be using drugs?

The first step is "DON'T PANIC"; overcoming your own fears is an important step in getting help for your child. Speak with your child when you are CALM and have PLENTY of TIME. LISTEN, LISTEN, LISTEN to what they have to say. Assure your child that you love him/her and are worried that he/she might be using drugs.

If you have additional questions, please contact Region Ten and asked to speak with a substance abuse counselor with the Child and Family Services team. Region Ten’s main number is 434-972-1800.