Parents with students in the Cherokee County School District are invited to learn more about mental health and suicide prevention through a series of free events in March.

Cherokee County Council PTA’s Parent University is a free program held at district high schools, that are open to all parents.

The first topic is mental health awareness and suicide prevention, designed to help parents support their children’s health and safety. Speakers include Debra Murdock, the leader of CCSD’s social emotional learning initiative, CCSD Police Lt. Richie Rich and Noelle Beard of Highland Rivers Health.

Earlier this school year, the Creekview High School zone led a discussion on the topic, and forums are scheduled throughout March for each of the other zones. Parents can attend any of the events regardless of which district they live in.

Cherokee PTA President Olga Spivey said the event is to inform parents of what the school district is doing on mental health, and to help them support their children.

“Statistics tell us there’s a lot of struggling happening right now. If we can help the district get tools into the hands of our parents, connect them to great resources and also just help kill the stigma that’s out there on mental health and talking about it — we really want to help people to feel empowered to talk about tough subjects,” she said. “That’s kind of what we’re doing, giving parents tools and helping them broach a difficult concept, learn to have words to have conversations that need to be had with our kids.”

Parent University mental health events are scheduled 6:30-8 p.m. for the following dates:

♦ March 5, Woodstock High School;

♦ March 11, Cherokee High School;

♦ March 18, Etowah High School;

♦ March 25, River Ridge High School;

♦ March 31, Sequoyah High School.

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Shannon is a reporter covering education, city governments, crime, features, religion and other local news. She is a graduate of Young Harris College and currently lives in unincorporated Woodstock.

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