By Eden Laikin
Nassau County’s mental health officials have been chosen to present Overdose Prevention and Emotional Wellness Workshops to school board members statewide, at the School Board Association’s 95th Annual Convention and Education Expo held in Manhattan from October 26th to October 28th, Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano announced today.
Presenters include a collaboration between members of Nassau’s Department of Human Services, Office of the County Executive and Police Department. The presentations represent part of the County’s three-pronged approach to fighting the deadly Opiate epidemic – Education, Awareness and Enforcement.
The Overdose Prevention Workshop focuses on Narcan training – aimed at friends and family members of those already addicted or those regularly using a bevy of narcotics for painful chronic diseases. Each trainee will learn how to save the life of someone overdosing on Heroin or prescription painkillers, and receive free, the antidote Narcan.
The Emotional Wellness workshop is aimed at middle school students –the age when experts believe most children begin to experiment with substances, or look to substances as a way to “self-medicate” feelings.
National studies indicate at least 20% of middle and high school students have taken prescription drugs without a doctor’s prescription. Approximately 4.5 million American children, aged 12 and older, reported abusing prescription drugs; while 1 in 3 teens report having a close friend who abuses RX pain relievers to get high.
A County social worker will accompany a police detective to speak to students about emotional wellness through better judgment, coping and social skills, vocation, peer pressure, mental health, problem-solving, decision-making and life skills
The workshops are part of Nassau’s Behavioral Health Awareness Campaign, launched last year to make people aware of the connection between mental and physical health and substance abuse. According to the BHAC website, the most successful outcome comes from treating all three aspects of an affected person, simultaneously.
County Executive Mangano urged all Nassau school districts to host both a Narcan training for parents and staff, and a workshop on “emotional wellness” for middle school students.
“We are losing nearly one Long Islander each day to a Heroin or prescription pain pill overdose,” County Executive Mangano said. “Yet, we have at our disposal a safe and proven way to prevent overdose deaths if caught early enough. And, we have a state law that allows us to administer the “antidote” during an emergency, without fear of being sued.”
Last year, in Nassau alone, 115 people died from prescription painkiller abuse. Another 44 died from Heroin.
Narcan, administered through a simple nasal spray, has reversed hundreds of overdoses in NYS and thousands across the nation, with no reported ill effect. The kits are paid for by the AIDS Institute of the NYS Health Department.
So far, 7 Nassau school districts have hosted Narcan trainings for their staff and students’ parents – East Rockaway, Bellmore-Merrick, Levittown, Bethpage, Carle Place, Massapequa and Garden City. Several more have scheduled them.