Rappahannock News

Mental Health Associatio­n highlights schools’ social worker

- From staff and contribute­d reports

In honor of National Social Work Week, the Mental Health Associatio­n of Fauquier highlighte­d Rappahanno­ck County Public Schools social worker Erica Jennejahn, who said she’s working to help adults understand today’s youth.

Jennejahn met with Renee Norden, executive director of the mental health nonprofit, on a “cold rainy morning” in February at a cafe in Sperryvill­e where they discussed her role at the schools and what the social worker is hoping to accomplish in her new role, according to a release from the nonprofit.

Jennejahn told Norden she wishes there were more social workers available in the school system. “I wish there was another ‘me,’ not just for the mental health counseling, but more of the macro-level work,” Jennejahn said.

The social worker recalled her first day at Rapahannoc­k schools when in the first 10 minutes on the job she had to complete her first suicide risk assessment.

Jennejahn is also supporting a peer mentor program that was created by one of the school counselors to pair older and younger students. The school has

41 mentor applicants, according 6to the mental health associatio­n.

“[My job] is the most satisfying thing that has ever happened to me,” Jennejahn told the mental health associatio­n. “It is work that makes my heart and soul sing.”

“I enjoy the youth and helping them navigate life – to build people up. I see my role as a link between home, school and the community,” she said.

Jennejahn was brought on by the schools last year following a prolonged search to replace her predecesso­r amid what administra­tors described as a mental health crisis among students of all ages. She was tasked with overseeing the school’s response to the impacts of the pandemic, including learning loss and how prolonged social isolation affects mental health and behavioral growth of kids in the community.

“Erica is so essential to the very fabric of the social emotional wellbeing of our students and families,” Superinten­dent Dr. Shannon Grimsley said in a statement. “We are very fortunate to have recruited such a competent and dedicated individual for this crucial role. She is already making such an impact!”


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