Student Assistance Services News

August 2021

Student Assistance Specialists (SASs) have expertise in the fields of substance use and mental health. They have Master’s degrees in Social Work or Counseling and most are licensed by the Virginia Department of Health Professions as Clinical Social Workers, Professional Counselors or Substance Abuse Treatment Professionals. As members of the Unified Mental Health Team, Student Assistance Specialists advance LCPS initiatives of Substance Use Prevention, Social Emotional Learning and Suicide Prevention through K-12 education, support, prevention, intervention, referral services, staff development and consultation.

To find your school's SAS assignment, visit our website:

Partnering to Support a Healthy Transition to School

Staff, parents and students alike are excited about the return to in-person learning this fall. We are looking forward to seeing familiar faces as well as getting acquainted with new friends, teachers and support staff. Returning to school also involves some adjustment. Changing sleep patterns, new commutes and uncertainty about new situations can be challenging. Our students' worry and stress about this transition can be just as healthy and typical a part of their adolescent experience as their enthusiasm.

The challenge for parents is that sometimes what we may think are normal return-to-school jitters could be more. The past 18 months of change related to COVID-19 only increases the chances that what in the past has been a period of adjustment might now look more intense and may even appear as anxiety. Adolescents' ability to express how they feel can be limited and it often falls on parents to find out what is going on.

Anxiety can show up in many forms (acting out, withdrawal from the normal interactions at home, lack of socialization, experimentation with drugs). The key indicator is how far a child strays from their baseline. If it is more intense and/or longer in duration than before, consider reaching out and accessing your school’s United Mental Health Team (UMHT).

Each school's UMHT includes the School Counseling team, School Social Worker, School Psychologist, and Student Assistance Specialist. UMHT staff can provide support to your child at school as well as connect you to resources in your community.

Expanding on our own resources, the leadership team in LCPS partnered with Dr. Jonathan Dalton to increase our readiness to support students struggling with school-related anxiety. Dr. Dalton is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist and the Founder and Director of the Center for Anxiety and Behavioral Change (CABC) in Rockville, MD. He specializes in the treatment of anxiety disorders in children and teens, with a focus on anxiety-based school refusal.

In addition to consulting with and educating our staff, Dr. Dalton gave a presentation for parents on Helping your Children Cope with Anxiety in the COVID-19 era for LCPS's Mental Health and Wellness Parent Education Series. The video and presentation slides can be found at the links below.

Education and Support Resources

These resources are not maintained or endorsed by Loudoun County Public Schools. LCPS is providing them as a helpful resource but is not responsible for their content.

Increase Your Knowledge - Alcohol Information - Drug Information - Tobacco and E-Cig Information - Easy-to-read drug facts - COVID-19 & Substance Use—Stanford study on vaping increasing COVID-19 risk - DEA website - drug-specific information, pill identifiers, social media trends— Addiction Policy Forum website—provides educational videos and articles - Education and tips for parents on talking to their children about substance use

Support for you as a Loved One - Resource for families - Online Support Community for parents/caregivers - Support for family members of someone struggling with addiction—Zoom meetings—Support for children of parents struggling with addiction—Zoom meetings - Find online Alateen meetings—Addiction Policy Forum website for finding and navigating the treatment experience

Find a Treatment Provider - SAMHSA treatment locator

1-800-662-HELP (4357) TTY: 1-800-487-4889 - SAMSHA National Helpline - Online Recovery Community: Self-Management and Recovery Training Recovery community based on Buddhist Principles, virtual meetings available—Virtual Narcotics Anonymous meetings - Virtual Alcoholics Anonymous meetings - LCPS listing of community treatment providers

All Rights Reserved. ©2021 Loudoun County Public Schools.