Annual Notification Regarding
School-Based Counseling, Mental Health Services,
and Ongoing School Counseling Services
MUSCLE SHOALS CITY SCHOOLS
School-Based Counseling Services (Does not require opt-in)
For purposes of this section, “school-based counseling services” include those school counseling services which do NOT require a mental health therapist or other mental health therapeutic license.
The school system may provide or sponsor the following school-based counseling services:
- Large group guidance - includes school counselor or professional visiting the classroom to discuss topics such as bullying, class scheduling, stress management, test anxiety or guest speakers to discuss good choices, substance abuse prevention, etc.
- Small group guidance - includes small group of students with school counselor or professional to discuss topics such as test anxiety, grief, healthy coping skills, etc.
- Mild crisis intervention - short-term, immediate assistance by a school counselor or the district’s mental health services coordinator for a specific situation (not ongoing and not therapeutic).
- Mentoring – examples include peer helpers, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, and/or social work interns working with students in school on topics such as friendships, healthy relationships, anger management, and anxiety.
- Informal assessments/surveys administered by school personnel – includes questionnaires provided to students related to social behaviors, feelings, etc.
- Instructional activities – school system’s approved curriculum or otherwise required to be taught by law (e.g. Erin’s Law, Jason Flatt Act, etc.).
Mental Health Services & Ongoing School Counseling Services (Requires opt-in)
Click here to access opt-in form
Under Alabama law, no student under the age of fourteen may participate in ongoing school counseling services including, but not limited to, mental health services, unless (1) the student’s parent or legal guardian has submitted a written opt-in granting permission for the student to participate or (2) there is an imminent threat to the health of the student or others.
For purposes of this section, “mental health services” includes services treatments, surveys, or assessments related to mental health, and “ongoing school counseling services” includes those school counseling services that are therapeutic in nature, requiring a mental health therapist or other mental health therapeutic license
Therefore, if your child is under fourteen, they will only be allowed to participate in mental health services and ongoing school counseling services if you opt-in. If you would like the school system to be able to offer and/or provide mental health services to your child, you must opt-in for each service listed for them to participate in that service.
Even if you do not opt-in to mental health services, your child may be provided mental health services if there is an imminent threat to their health or others. School employees may determine in their discretion whether such an imminent threat exists and provide any mental health services they deem necessary under the circumstances.
Parent of students with disabilities: Please note that the opt-in process is not applicable to any school counseling services or “mental health services” contained in a student’s IEP or §504 plan. Consent for those services will be obtained and information regarding your child’s mental health services will be provided through the usual special education process.
The school system may provide or sponsor the following mental health services and ongoing school counseling services:
- Individualized or group ongoing counseling and/or therapy - provided by mental health therapists or other licensed mental health professional(s)
- Formal assessments/surveys administered by licensed mental health professionals - includes questionnaires provided to students related to social behaviors, feelings, etc.
- Crisis intervention – immediate assistance by a mental health professional for a specific situation (unless immediate intervention is needed to safeguard the health and safety of the student or others).
- School-Based Mental Health - Ongoing counseling services that are therapeutic in nature by school professionals or private practitioners in the school setting. [Note: Parent or legal guardian’s permission will be obtained during an intake meeting before services are provided.]
“OPTING-IN” DOES NOT MEAN YOU ARE SIGNING-UP OR REGISTERING FOR THE ABOVE SERVICES. IN THE EVENT THAT MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES OR ONGOING SCHOOL COUNSELING SERVICES ARE RECOMMENDED BY SCHOOL PERSONNEL, “OPTING-IN” PROVIDES MUSCLE SHOALS CITY SCHOOLS WITH YOUR PERMISSION / CONSENT TO PROCEED WITH CONNECTING THE STUDENT WITH SERVICES.
Review of Materials
You may request to review any materials used in the guidance and counseling programs available to students by contacting your child’s school principal.
Information Regarding How to Allow, Limit, or Prevent Your Child’s Participation in Mental Health Services
You may limit or rescind permission for your student to participate in mental health services at any time by providing written notice to your child’s school principal.