Mental Health Monthly

TCS Mental Health Newsletter, Vol. 1 No. 2, September 2021

September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month

Learn how you can help stop the stigma surrounding suicide.

Preventing Suicide, Together

Suicide is a topic that many shy away from due to the long history of stigma surrounding mental health. De-stigmatizing suicide is one of the most powerful tools we have in preventing suicide. By creating spaces where people feel comfortable talking about their feelings, those experiencing suicidal thoughts are more likely to ask for help.

Each year, TCS provides training for all employees on suicide prevention in accordance with the Jason Flatt Act. For more information about the Jason Flatt Act and how you can learn more about suicide prevention, please visit The Jason Foundation Website.

Finally, if you or someone you know are experiencing a mental health crisis, there is help and hope. Reach out to a professional in one of the following ways:

  • If you or someone you know is in an emergency, call 911 immediately.
  • If you are in crisis or are experiencing difficult or suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273 TALK (8255)
  • If you’re uncomfortable talking on the phone, you can also text NAMI to 741-741 to be connected to a free, trained crisis counselor on the Crisis Text Line.

Tesney Davis, LICSW

Mental Health Coordinator

Tuscaloosa City Schools

Tuscaloosa Out of the Darkness Community Walk

Community Walks, held in hundreds of cities across the country, are a key piece of the Out of the Darkness movement, which began in 2004. These events give people the courage to open up about their own connections to the cause, and a platform to create a culture that’s smarter about mental health. Friends, family members, neighbors, and coworkers walk side-by-side, supporting each other and in memory of those we’ve lost. Tuscaloosa's Community Walk will be held on Sunday, October 10, 2021, from 2:00-4:00 p.m. Register for Tuscaloosa's walk by clicking on the infographic below.

Sports and Mental Health

It is almost Fall in Alabama, which means Friday night lights, fall ball, volleyball, and college football kicking off for another season...just to name a few! Sports present us with unique learning opportunities as we develop both physical and mental skills. Some of the most valuable life lessons can be learned through sports. As adults, we are given plenty of teachable moments with our students while coaching or watching them on the field. However, it's often hard to separate the positive social and emotional benefits of sports from the social and emotional pressures that come with participating in athletics. Here are five tips for supporting children's mental health in relation to sports.

  1. Practice awareness of your own emotions and expectations. As adults, our own emotions and reactions are often tied to our expectations of student-athletes and their lives. We want them to feel happy and we feel proud when they excel in sports. We can also feel angry when we think they’ve been treated unfairly, if they are hurt, or when they do not perform to our expectations. Young athletes pick up on adult responses and reactions. Therefore, being mindful of our own emotions gives us the ability to model good sportsmanship, self-management, and social awareness.
  2. Model acceptance. You win some, you lose some. Student-athletes will inevitably have days where they play well and get along with teammates, as well as days where they play poorly and experience social conflicts. Modeling acceptance of all sorts of scenarios helps athletes learn resilience, relationship skills, and self-awareness.
  3. Create space for emotional expression. Students have different needs and abilities when it comes to expressing and communicating their emotions. Coaches and parents can create space for conversation by asking open questions, listening to responses, and helping students learn to manage their emotions. Sports are emotional and that's a good thing, because we can teach students to harness strong emotions and use them to propel them forward in life.
  4. Value the effort. Sports teach valuable life lessons that transfer to life skills that follow students into adulthood. They teach focus, hard work, and goal setting. They build self-esteem and confidence. They present us with physical and emotional challenges, which help build strength and perseverance. Focusing on the effort, rather than the outcome, can help athletes recognize that their value is not derived from whether they win or lose.
  5. Support social awareness and problem-solving in sports. Playing sports comes with a lot of social upside and downside. Being on a team can connect students with a supportive community of like-minded people — but what if they don’t make the team? Or what if they do make the team, but don’t feel supported? Talk with students about what is happening socially in their sports. Sports should be an avenue to teach values like appreciation, respect, resilience, and inclusion.

Tesney Davis, LICSW

Mental Health Services Social Worker

Tuscaloosa City Schools

Zones of Regulation

Zones of Regulation (sometimes referred to simply as "Zones") is a program that teaches a variety of social-emotional skills to children and young adults, starting with early emotional skills and advancing on to self-regulation and navigating social situations. Zones accomplishes this through:

  • Identifying emotions: by categorizing feelings into four zones (blue, green, yellow, and red)
  • Self-regulation: achieving the preferred state of alertness (zone) for a situation. This is all about regulating your body and emotional regulation.
  • Identifying triggers: learning what makes you “tick” and why
  • Coping strategies: various techniques and strategies that help achieve emotional regulation and manage strong emotions
  • Size of the problem: introduces the idea that the size of your reaction should match the size of your problem, how to identify the size of your problem, and strategies for problem-solving.
  • Expected behavior vs unexpected behavior: this also covers perspective taking and how your behavior affects the thoughts and feelings of the people around you.

Zones of Regulation is one of many Social-Emotional Learning tools being utilized by TCS this year to help educate our students on emotional wellness. You can learn more about taking the Zones home here!

Tesney Davis, LICSW

Please do not hesitate to reach out if you have questions, concerns, or suggestions.