Barrington 220 Commits to Safer Schools

It is our responsibility as educators to ensure a safe, secure, and positive learning environment.


story by lisa stamos | Photos Courtesy of Barrington 220

A Message from Superintendent Dr. Brian Harris

Children enroll in the Barrington 220 schools with experiences from all angles of life; some with challenges and opportunities beyond what we can imagine. Whether or not these students thrive and are successful is largely dependent upon the happenings in our schools. It is our responsibility as educators to ensure a safe, secure, and positive learning environment.

The topic of school safety is complex and holds many meanings. Whether it’s preparing staff to handle emergency situations, teaching Internet safety skills, or ensuring students have access to mental health professionals, all areas of school safety and security are critically important.

During my time as Barrington 220’s Superintendent of Schools, I’ve had the opportunity to get to know parents, staff, and community members on a personal level and understand the unique dynamics in each of our buildings. I’ve learned that we are similar to districts across America when it comes to school safety. Bullying exists, Internet trends shift, and security benchmarks get tougher. Despite these challenges, Barrington 220 is committed to improving school safety in all areas in order to keep our students and staff out of harm’s way. Ensuring the safety and social-emotional well-being of students is critical to our success.

In this issue of Quintessential Barrington magazine, you’ll get a deeper look at school safety in Barrington 220 and the measures we are taking to protect and educate our students and staff. Furthermore, we need your help, as this is a community-wide, long-term process that continues to improve our culture—one that promotes a safe climate in each of our schools. We must all partner to accept responsibility to create an environment that demonstrates and reinforces respect of others at home, in our schools, and everywhere our community reaches.

Thank you for your ongoing support.

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Training and Planning for Critical Incidents

The unthinkable tragedies that occurred at places like Sandy Hook Elementary School and Columbine High School are important reminders that crises can strike at any time. Barrington 220 understands the critical need to prepare for situations like these. Last school year, the district partnered with the Barrington Police and Fire Departments to take emergency preparedness to the next level.

“Barrington 220, the Barrington Police Department, and the Barrington Fire Department have been talking for a few years about doing an active shooter drill at the high school in order to practice and hone the emergency procedures for each group,” said Barrington High School Dean of Students Joe Molloy, who helped facilitate the drill. “In the event of a shooting situation in our buildings, our staff members will likely be the first to respond. We know it is important that they understand what gunfire looks and sounds like, and how to act quickly and appropriately,” he said.

Barrington 220 staff members and local law enforcement agencies participated in the event while students were on spring break in late March 2015. In the weeks and months before the drill took place, members from the Barrington Police and Fire Departments trained Barrington 220 staff on the current methods used by the FBI and Homeland Security to survive an active shooter, and drilling them on what would happen in various crisis situations.

“We wanted to partner with the district personnel and the fire department in order to better prepare for any critical incident that may arise. We also wanted to introduce a more intense training process for the schools,” Barrington Police Chief David Dorn said. “When you conduct live drills, you introduce stress into the process. The stress can be the most valuable addition to the training because it is true-to-life,” he said.

‘True-to-life’ is an alarmingly accurate way of describing the events that unfolded on March 20 at Barrington High School. It was the first time many staff members had heard what real gunfire sounded like. Realistic moulage make-up was applied to the ‘victims’ to make the scenario feel even more lifelike. Many staff members have described the event as an eye-opening experience.

“Our staff appreciated the realistic drill, responded enthusiastically to its evaluation and procedures, and felt that it was important to practice the situation. Teachers could understand how it feels to make a decision whether to lockdown or run to safety,” Molloy said.

While the high school drill was an important starting point, both law enforcement agencies and Barrington 220 understand that emergency situations would be handled much differently at the middle and elementary grade levels. Each year, a similar critical incident drill will be held at a different building or grade level within the district to better understand how to react to this crisis.

“There is a saying in emergency response that you never want to meet other responders for the first time on the day of a critical incident. Ongoing relationships with our area responders, citizens in the community, and school personnel is crucial in optimizing our efforts in public safety,” Dorn said.

The partnership that Barrington 220 has with the Barrington Police Department is not limited to large-scale crisis events. The district and police department are constant partners in ensuring student and staff safety on a daily basis.

“We have added keys for quick access to all of the villages’ schools in the event of an emergency. We also have a full-time police officer that works out of Barrington High School,” Dorn said. “We have worked with the district in strengthening their security practices by reviewing all emergency plans and evacuation practices,” he said.

Although it is frightening to consider that an unthinkable tragedy could occur here, Barrington 220, in partnership with the Barrington Police and Fire Departments, feel being prepared for the worst is of the utmost importance.

“We will continue to work with the police and fire departments to train all parties to respond quickly and appropriately to emergency situations,” Molloy said. “We feel that it is worth the time and effort to simulate these situations and try to make the proper response second nature.”

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Q&A with Joe Molloy on the CrisisGo Application

We live in a digital world with online resources readily available at our fingertips. In the event of an emergency, every second matters. Struggling with the three-ring-binder, holding emergency protocols, and flipping pages to find information could be detrimental to student safety. Barrington 220 has partnered with CrisisGo to bring an emergency preparedness app to the district.

Q: What is CrisisGo?

A: CrisisGo is a mobile phone and tablet application that allows Barrington 220 staff to access to things like crisis checklists, student attendance and emergency contact information, and building maps. The app allows for two-way communication between school staff and emergency personnel.

Q: How is Barrington 220 using the app?

A: Currently, all Barrington 220 administrators have access to the app, and plans are in the works to bring it to teachers and other staff members soon. The district partnered with CrisisGo during its implementation to test the app and offer constructive feedback on any proposed improvements or changes.

Q: How was it used during the March 20 Critical Incident Drill?

A: Administrators were able to access emergency procedures and follow lockdown processes with a click of a button. Because this information was available on each person’s cell phone, it proved to be a very efficient and realistic emergency preparedness method. The app was also used during the drill to communicate with other administrators and local law enforcement agencies, as the event occurred in real time. It has been a powerful addition to Barrington 220’s emergency preparedness plan.

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Building Security

It is rare to find a school in America today that doesn’t have exterior doors locked or secured by campus attendants during the school day. Schools districts, including Barrington 220, are locking down buildings to ensure only those who are authorized to be inside of a school are granted access. However, building security is more complex than simply locking perimeter doors.

Quintessential Barrington spoke with Barrington 220’s Director of Buildings and Grounds, Tom Campagna, about what is required to secure the district’s 13 buildings.

QB: In addition to the campus security at the high school and locked exterior doors at all buildings, what is Barrington 220 doing to secure school entrances?

TC: We go through great lengths to keep the exterior of our buildings secure. Every exterior door should be locked at all times, with limited access to staff members and security personnel. This summer, the district spent many weeks installing 3M Ultra 800S security glass film to all of the exterior windows and doors in our buildings. The security glass is shatterproof and provides another layer of protection against a possible gunshot or violent intruder situation. The glass was funded through the School and Campus Safety Grant from the Illinois Emergency Management Agency.

Our staff also enhanced the security camera systems at both middle schools over the summer. We replaced the old analog security cameras to new IP models and increased the number of cameras in each building to improve the overall coverage.

QB: The district recently switched over to a keyless entry system. Tell me more about that.

TC: We recently completed the third and final phase of our keyless access management system. Having a keyless entry at all buildings improves and simplifies the automated lock down management process for staff.

The district maintains a database that allows us to know who enters our facilities and at what time of the day. With a single keystroke, we can enable or disable access to our buildings to anyone who has a key card. This eliminates the need to give out mechanical keys to our staff members for the perimeter doors. In doing so, we never have to be concerned that our master keying system is compromised in the event of a lost or stolen key.

QB: The keyless entry system also allows all adults to be clearly identified in the buildings at all times. How does that work?

TC: Each card is labeled with a person’s name, department, and photograph. The ID cards are attached to a color-coded lanyard that staff members and building visitors must wear at all times. A different color lanyard is given to visitors, full-time staff members, and substitute or temporary staff. This identification system allows district and law enforcement personnel to easily identify a person and their affiliation with Barrington 220 at all times.

QB: The Barrington High School campus is very large and spread out, which likely requires additional security measures. How is the high school managed differently than the other buildings?

TC: During a typical school day, Barrington High School holds more than 3,000 people. We employ a number of security personnel who patrol the campus during school hours, ensuring all cars have permits to be there, and all people coming and going from the building are accounted for. In addition, we have many security cameras operating at all times to monitor activity across campus. Security measures like IP security cameras and added LED pathway lighting are included in the current reconstruction of the bridge connecting the Field of Dreams area to the high school campus.

QB: What security features do you see being added in the future?

TC: The next project we are looking to implement is the future renovation of the security camera systems in Barrington High School and the elementary buildings. These renovations will include upgrading the analog security cameras to IP and increasing the number of cameras in each building.

QB: What is an important aspect about building and school security in Barrington 220 that the community should know?

TC: Security of our schools and buildings is everyone’s responsibility. We all have to work together with the systems and procedures that are put in place to safeguard our school communities.

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Internet Safety in the Digital Age:
Critical School Curriculum

The digital age has dramatically changed not only the way students access information, but also how they interact with each other. Barrington 220 students have had access to digital and online resources since the early 1990s when digital instructional technology became readily available to the district. In recent years, the presence of social media has added another important layer to consider when teaching students to navigate the Internet safely and responsibly.

At all grade levels, Internet safety, or digital citizenship, is an integral part of the Barrington 220 curriculum, facilitated by classroom teachers and the library information teachers.

“Topics such as information privacy, creating safe passwords, and netiquette (Internet etiquette) are taught and reviewed every year, but the focus of the curriculum and learning is on using critical thinking skills when encountering information on the Web,” said Pam Meiser, Library Information Teacher at Barbara B. Rose Elementary School.

“We integrate the Illinois Standards-Aligned Instruction for Library (I-SAIL), a curriculum framework aligned with the Illinois Common Core Standards,” she said. The implementation of Barrington 220’s One-to-World program at all grade levels is making this discussion even more relevant and important, as all students in grades 6-12 have immediate access to a laptop or iPad. The iPad is also being tested on a one-to-one level in elementary grades this school year. While the Internet has opened an important door of opportunity for students, some may not realize the risks that come along with it.

“Because today’s youth are considered ‘digital natives,’ some feel that all aspects of technology are intuitive for them. I disagree,” said Amy Rolain, Arnett C. Lines Elementary School Library Media Teacher. “It is absolutely crucial that we teach our students about the great responsibility that comes along with the powerful technology we have at our fingertips. The digital landscape offers our students extraordinary opportunities to explore, connect, create, and learn, but with this power comes safety and security concerns, including ethics and behavior issues,” she said.

Part of Barrington 220’s digital citizenship curriculum includes teaching students to make safe and responsible decisions online by learning to discern the difference between personal information that should remain private and new discoveries and learning that should be shared with the world.

“Students must work to build and preserve a positive, productive digital footprint and reputation and stand up to cyberbullying of any kind. They must use their information literacy skills to critically evaluate the vast amounts of information they encounter online, and give credit to those who create it,” Rolain said. “These are lofty goals to expect our students to accomplish alone. Our schools must partner with families and the community to support them as they navigate our complex digital landscape. “

Parents as Partners

A critical piece of the digital citizenship curriculum in Barrington 220 is educating and partnering with parents to keep messages consistent at school and at home. Several parent education nights have been held at schools across the district on the topic, some featuring Internet Safety Specialist Melissa Hemzacek from the Illinois Attorney General’s Office. Similar parent information nights will continue in the 2015-16 school year and beyond.

“When parents and teachers work together to make students aware of possible pitfalls and give them tools to deal with bullying or harassment, we allow them to use the Internet to its fullest potential,” Meiser said.

Meiser, Rolain, and the rest of the Barrington 220 Library Media staff recommend that parents develop flexible, age-appropriate Internet guidelines for their children. Usernames and passwords should also be shared with parents at all times.

“Encourage your children to tell you if anything happens online that makes them feel unsafe or uncomfortable,” Meiser said. “If your child is experiencing cyberbullying, encourage him or her to tell their teacher or librarian. If your child is not comfortable doing so alone, offer to go with them. Encourage your child to be a person who stands up for others who are being bullied or left out, online or in real life,” she said.

Library Information Teachers in Barrington are continuously updating curriculum to keep up with changes to our digital landscape. Parents are encouraged to stop by the library during parent-teacher conferences or make an appointment if questions or concerns arise. The Barrington Area Library staff is also a terrific resource on Internet safety for the Barrington community.

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Barrington 220 Library Information Teachers

  • Director of Media Services: LeeAnn Taylor
  • Barrington High School: Jennifer Walsh and Janet Anderson
  • Barrington Middle School-Station Campus: Kathy Hempel
  • Barrington Middle School-Prairie Campus: Laura Winters
  • Arnett C. Lines Elementary School: Amy Rolain
  • Barbara B. Rose Elementary School: Pam Meiser
  • Countryside Elementary School: Valerie Baartz
  • Grove Avenue Elementary School: Becky Banach
  • Hough Street Elementary School: Mary Marks
  • North Barrington Elementary School: Wendy Settles
  • Roslyn Road Elementary School: Stacey Lang
  • Sunny Hill Elementary School: Nancy Wadin

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Social Emotional Learning—Taking the Right Steps

Studies prove that students who are well-adjusted and feel safe feel at school are not only happier, but also perform better academically. Social-emotional wellness of students and academics go hand in hand. A main goal for Barrington 220 is to ensure these needs are met for students in all grade levels.

Social-emotional learning is taught in many ways, including observing behavior students see from trusted adults and teachers. But this concept can also be taught in the classroom, the same way teachers instruct science or reading. The Second Step program provided in preschool through middle school classrooms is a good example of social-emotional learning curriculum at work.

“Second Step has been integrated into the Barrington 220 curriculum for several years, thanks to support from the Barrington 220 Educational Foundation and Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) funding. All students in grades preschool through eight have Second Step in the classroom,” said Assistant Superintendent of Special Services Connie Simon. “Students receive direct instruction and then engage in problem solving and role play activities to reinforce each lesson. It has proved to be an engaging and effective way to teach our students these important skills and behaviors.”

In addition to curriculum and advisory-based instruction, the middle schools have provided educational opportunities to parents, students, and staff on how to identify if a student is being bullied and how to self-advocate and seek help from a trusted adult.

While high school students do not use Second Step, Barrington High School has a series of programs and methods used to ensure the emotional well-being of students. Curriculum developed by John’s Hopkins Medicine known as Adolescent Depression Awareness Program (ADAP) is included in high school health classes.

“Teachers, in partnership with school psychologists and social workers, discuss depression awareness. Specifically, what is normal in sadness, and what is not normal. If you see a friend who is saying certain things that indicate they may self-harm, how do you as a student follow up on that?” asks Barrington High School Special Services Department Chair Lesley Roberts. “We have found ADAP to be very successful among our student population.”

Another important resource for suicide prevention at Barrington High School and throughout the district is “QPR” which stands for Question, Persuade, Refer.

“I think of it as CPR for suicide. Talking them through it, recognizing the warning signs and keeping them alive until they can get help,” Roberts said.

All school psychologists and social workers are trained in QPR, and how to teach others about the method. The goal is for all staff to be trained on the method over time.

“We want anyone who interacts with kids to be trained at some point. Anyone from custodians to administrative assistants to teachers,” Roberts said.

Erin’s Law

New this year to Barrington 220 is Erin’s Law, which will bring heightened awareness of sexual abuse to our students and staff. Erin’s Law requires that all public schools in Illinois implement a prevention-oriented child sexual abuse program which teaches the following:

  • Students in grades preschool–5th learn age-appropriate techniques to recognize child sexual abuse and how to tell a trusted adult
  • School personnel about child sexual abuse
  • Parents and guardians the warning signs of child sexual abuse, plus needed assistance, referral or resource information to support sexually abused children and their families.

“What we want to do is ensure we are teaching kids these important pieces of information at their correct developmental level,” Roberts said. “What we teach at the Early Learning Center will differ from what is taught at Barrington High School.”

These key social-emotional learning pieces compliment student organizations like the HERE in Barrington Coalition (Help, Encouragement, Resources, Education) to foster a community that is more aware of what these mental health crises might look like.

“The number of students who are hospitalized for depression or mental health problems has increased, but that is because people are recognizing the problem and referring students to get the help they need,” Roberts said. “It is very important to note that these issues are not going to go away. Our goal can’t be to cure depression, as that is not something we can control. What we can control is how we handle it. By putting all of these interventions in place, we are being more responsive, which in turn is creating healthy lives.”

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Colt Time: A New Format for Middle School Advisory

New this school year, Barrington middle school advisory will be completely transformed and under a new name. Instead of an abbreviated class period each day, students will participate in “Colt Time” for a full 44-minute class period, allowing more time for enrichment, support, and personalized social-emotional learning. Quintessential Barrington learned more about Colt Time from Prairie Campus Principal Travis Lobbins.

Describe what Colt Time means for Barrington Middle School students.

Colt Time has the ability to be a game-changer for middle level education. During this full class period, students will have the opportunity to receive additional support and/or enrichment from their teachers. Even better, students will have the opportunity to choose what teachers or counseling staff they want to see and what added support/enrichment they may need. Teachers will also have the ability to select specific students that they determine need more support and address that during Colt Time.

Along with our ongoing social-emotional learning (SEL) counselor activities that take place throughout the entire year, students will now have additional SEL/relationship building with their Colt Time group once a month. This new opportunity will be led by their Colt Time teacher and will follow a specific curriculum that the Colt Time teacher committee established.

Why did the middle schools think it was important to lengthen advisory to a full class period?

We believe so strongly in advocating and supporting our students although it continued to be extremely difficult to do prior to school or after school as families/students are so busy. We had Mike Mattos, who is an experienced middle school principal and educational consultant, work with our staff about how to find a way to engage our students with this support during the day. This process took a lot of deep thought, conversations, and planning. Middle school teachers truly have a great opportunity to assist students with this model.

We lengthened the period for a variety of reasons. It is important to have more time for enrichment, counseling, or other operational issues. Additionally, this would allow students in Band, Orchestra, and Chorus to have an opportunity to participate within Colt Time, as well. Those classes will continue to instruct for 30 minutes and have the additional 14 minutes for added support and enrichment for students.

Share the additional strategies the middle schools are addressing the social-emotional needs of students.

In addition to SEL lessons and one-on-one time with counselors, we offer school-wide programs to educate students and bring awareness to specific topics. We also have an ambassador program, no name-calling week, cyberbullying, and bullying programs. Counselors are assigned students in 6th grade and align with that student all three years to develop that important connection during their middle school years. Individual counseling occurs here every day. The bottom line is that if students aren’t happy or thriving emotionally, we can’t reach them academically, either. Their social-emotional needs must be a priority and we do the very best we can to meet those needs each day.

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High School Advisory

The advisory period in a student’s school day is vital time to connect with guidance staff and peers. Barrington 220 understands that school and social dynamics change with each grade level, so the structure is slightly altered to accommodate these needs. Barrington High School Guidance Counselor Joan Bell explained the advisory resources and goals for high school students.

What is the structure of advisory, especially at the freshman level?

Freshman advisory is a full-year program to form the firm foundation for overall success in high school and beyond. It is not just about the transition to high school. The curriculum covers multiple topics from bullying to study skills, to college/career resources and school spirit. Freshman advisory is held four days per week for the first semester of 9th grade. Beginning second semester, advisory meets two days per week and after spring break, students meet only on Mondays.

Each advisory group consists of about 25 students and is led by a teacher and a handful of student mentors. The teacher provides support, direction, insights, and leadership. The relationships made here often last through a student’s high school career. Counselors make several visits to freshman advisory through the year to help facilitate the connection with their students.

What is the structure for the remaining grade levels?

Sophomores through seniors attend an advisory session at least three times per school year on a variety of topics ranging from social-emotional learning to interpersonal skills.

What is addressed during advisory? Especially regarding things like bullying and anxiety?

Many of the advisory activities are directly aligned with the Illinois State Board of Education goals and standards for social-emotional learning. Our goals include developing self-awareness and self-management skills to achieve school and life success, using social-awareness and interpersonal skills to establish and maintain positive relationships and demonstrating decision-making skills and responsible behaviors in personal, school, and community contexts. Discussions around bullying/harassment, violence prevention, anxiety, and substance abuse begin at freshman orientation and continue throughout a student’s high school career.

How do you think advisory is making a positive impact on students?

One major factor in promoting school safety and success is making positive human connections. We see it in the media every day, when someone feels disconnected or connected in a negative way, tragic things happen. There are multiple ways to create these positive connections. Classroom teachers, co-curricular sponsors, coaches, student services, and parent organizations all contribute to the positive school climate by making strong connections with students. Advisory is a small piece of this intricate puzzle, but creating an atmosphere where students feel as though they belong is key in setting them up for success both at BHS and beyond.

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Resources Should You Need Them

Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital

450 W. Highway 22, Barrington / 847-381-9600
Emergency Medical Services (ER)
To learn more about the Hospital’s services:

Barrington Youth & Family Services

Affiliates and Partners: Barrington220, HERE in Barrington, Barrington LEADS
110 S. Hager Avenue, Barrington 847-381-0345

Barrington Youth & Family Services (BYFS) meets the social, psychological, and emotional needs of Barrington area youth and their families by providing a comprehensive array of counseling, prevention, and outreach programs. BYFS believes that by building healthier, more stable families, we build healthier communities.

BYFS is a 501(c)(3), community-based, social service agency established in 1972. Services are provided to residents that live in portions of Cook, Kane, Lake, and McHenry Counties and the Townships of Barrington, Cuba, Dundee, and Ela, all within the boundaries of Barrington 220. BYFS collaborates with local government, schools, and community leaders to design programs that address the specific issues and needs of Barrington area families, as well as to continually assess their effectiveness. This collaboration also allows the agency to identify and respond to new issues as they emerge. BYFS can help with the following:

  • Anxiety
  • Grief/Loss
  • Anger Issues
  • Manic Symptoms
  • Suicidal Thoughts
  • Homicidal Thoughts
  • Attention Issues
  • Psychotic Symptoms
  • Trauma Issues
  • Substance Abuse
  • School Problems
  • Marital/Couples Issues
  • Divorce Issues
  • Eating Issues
  • Self-Injurious Behaviors

BYFS accepts major medical insurance and self-pay as forms of payment. Clients residing within the school district who do not have major medical insurance may qualify for a sliding scale fee schedule based on the number of family members in the household and income sources.

AMITA Health Alexian Brothers Behavioral Health Hospital Hoffman Estates

1650 Moon Lake Blvd, Hoffman Estates, IL 60169 / 847-882-1600

Alexian Brothers Behavioral Health Hospital is a 141-bed private, non-for-profit behavioral health facility located in Hoffman Estates. The hospital has a wide variety of services for children and adolescents. At our location, we provide a 20-bed adolescent unit for ages 11-17. We provide a 12-bed eating disorders and self-injury unit for teens. We provide the latest evidence-based treatment strategies to serve students and their families. Our ability to cross-track students in more than one program makes us a unique provider of mental health and substance abuse services. We utilize psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, nurses, expressive therapists, and pastoral counselors to serve our patient population. We can provide outpatient services for students and their families at both our group practice location in Hoffman Estates and Alexian Center for Mental Health in Arlington Heights. We serve our students by providing counselors in many of the local high schools and through our school liaison team that helps students with transitioning back to school after treatment.

The hospital provides a call center staffed with clinical intake advisors to assist students and families with the proper level of care. We are able to provide a 24-hour assessment department for both emergencies and non-emergencies. The most common student problems are depression, anxiety, school avoidance, bipolar disorder, and adjustment disorder. Parents and school staff need to be aware of the following symptoms that may be displayed by students: statements about not wanting to live anymore, low or depressed mood, increased isolation, increased agitation, withdrawal from friends and family, increased mood instability, sleep or appetite problems, and signs of substance use or abuse. Students and families may call 855-383-2444 for immediate assistance with any mental health or substance abuse concerns. The assessment is free of charge.

Alexian Brothers Behavioral Health Hospital accepts most insurance benefits, as well as Medicaid. For students with no health insurance benefits, we are able to work with our local SASS provider to insure all students receive care regardless of their ability to pay. Families may request a financial form to see if they qualify to reduce their copay.

Samaritan Counseling Center of the Northwest Suburbs (SCCNW)

1000 Hart Road, Suite 201, Barrington / 847-382-HOPE (4673)

SCCNW partners with Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital through workshops, panel discussions, and classes such as the “Wellness from Within” panel, Spirituality and Mental Health, and an upcoming bullying presentation. SCCNW also partners with Northwest Neurology and other health care providers for patients with co-occurring diagnoses involving depression and anxiety.

SCCNW partners with congregations in providing support for members in need of psychotherapy to address a host of issues such as grief, divorce recovery, trauma, marriage problems, illness, etc.

Exec. Dir. Jeanne Hanson is co-chair with Executive Director of BACOA, Joyce Palmquist of the Behavioral Health Subcommittee for the Healthier Communities Coalition to explore ways that Barrington area mental and behavioral health agencies might partner. The first event is scheduled for November 1, 2015—Veronica Roth, BHS graduate and author of “Divergent,” will speak at the Barrington Area Library about coping with her mental health challenges.

Hanson is a member of the Board of Directors for HERE in Barrington, an educational resource for mental health and suicide awareness in BHS.

Clinical Dir. Scott Campbell is on the Board of Directors for NAMI, and is a liaison for many mental health agencies in the Northwest Suburbs.

We provide hope, help and healing through professional counseling for individuals, families using evidence-based therapies. Focusing on our clients’ strengths, we partner with them in developing a holistic treatment plan with achievable goals and positive outcomes. Whether it’s a difficult circumstance that puts someone in a temporary tailspin, or a chronic condition that requires an ongoing partnership for stability, we are able to meet clients where they are and help them cope.

We also offer ongoing groups for cancer support, bi-polar support, trauma support, and workshops on marriage enrichment and parenting skills. Beginning this fall we will offer pre-marital sessions, and an ongoing grief support group.

Our counselors also provide community training in Mental Health First Aid that trains participants to spot and respond appropriately to a mental health crisis as one would to a heart attack, and QPR—Question, Persuade, and Refer—that provides simple, effective strategies to help a friend who may be contemplating suicide.

Each year over 40,000 individuals die by suicide. Every day 1,500 people attempt suicide and over 110 people actually die. People with depression can sometimes feel suicidal. If they are in therapy already, these cycles of hopelessness can almost always be overcome and even eliminated. Family and friends can help, too, by watching for these signs:

  • Drastic changes in behavior or mood.
  • Withdrawing from friends, family and activities.
  • Difficulties in eating or sleeping.
  • Giving away prized possessions/making a will or “final arrangements”.
  • Increasing use of alcohol or other drugs.
  • History of previous suicide attempts.
  • Talking about wanting to die or wanting to commit suicide.
  • Feeling hopeless and helpless or feeling trapped or a burden to others.
  • Looking for ways or means to kill oneself.

Samaritan takes most insurance and offers a sliding scale for those without insurance or who are under-insured and cannot afford our standard fee.

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In the QPR training, people who feel that a friend is in danger of suicide are encouraged to simply be present, listen carefully, and ask specific questions.

  • Ask the person directly, “Are you thinking about killing yourself?”
  • Be willing to listen non-judgmentally and encourage them to express how they are feeling.
  • Show that you care and are available and willing to help them.
  • Offer HOPE that there are alternatives and assure them that HELP is available.
  • Remove objects that could be used in a suicide attempt.
  • If they are at immediate risk, get the person to the nearest Emergency Department or call 911 and do not leave the person alone until help arrives.
  • If they are not at immediate risk, persuade the person to agree to seek help. Make the appointment for them, if necessary. Offer to take them to the appointment.