Letter:  Checking in About Student Mental Health Issues, 12.2020


Dear Brewer Schools’ Families,

This note is to give everyone information about monitoring students’ mental health and specifically watching for any signs of suicidality. 

As families are doing such a great job keeping an eye on students’ health and watching for any COVID-19 symptoms, the pandemic has also raised concerns that students can feel isolated which can spiral into or exacerbate someone’s depression or other conditions. We know that unfortunately students sometimes engage in self-harm, and we have all heard about tragic cases where a student dies by suicide. 

Our district psychologist and one of our social workers have put together a list of warning signs and national, state, and local contacts if you have any concerns about how your student is doing. Call the school staff listed in the document if you need any help or are worried. You are not alone. 

This is not to alarm you in any way. Mental health can be a taboo subject, and we want to make sure that here in Brewer we are talking about all the issues facing our students and, in saying this out loud, assuring you that we stand ready to partner with families to protect our students during these trying times. 

The goal is to get to the other side of all this with everyone healthy and safe and with some academic progress having been made. The virus doesn’t care about how the past nine months have affected our students’ mental health and feelings of isolation, so it’s up to us to continue joining together to watch over them. Which we will. 


Thank you for caring so much about not only your own children but about our entire school community as well. 


Gregg Palmer, Superintendent of Schools


Warning Signs of Suicidality (National Alliance on Mental Illness; NAMI Maine)

  • Ideation- direct (“I’m going to kill myself”) or indirect (“I hope I go to sleep and don’t wake up”)

  • Substance use/abuse- excessive or increased

  • Purposelessness- no reason for living

  • Anxiety

  • Agitation

  • Insomnia or excessive sleeping

  • Feeling trapped (as if there is no way out)

  • Hopelessness

  • Withdrawal from family, friends, community (COVID-19 has increased our levels of isolation- are there changes in desire or efforts to interact/connect with others?)

  • Uncontrolled anger/rage

  • Recklessness

  • Mood Changes

  • Giving away possessions

  • Significant changes in appetite/eating habits

  • Increase in physical complaints- illness, pain

Suggestions for Reacting to your Child’s Suicidal Thoughts (Center for Suicide Prevention & Research)

  • Remember you’re not alone

  • Remember you and your child have not done anything wrong

  • Check in with your child regularly and ask directly about suicidal thoughts

  • Try to remain calm

  • Connect with mental health professionals

  • Work with mental health professionals to create a safety plan

If you are concerned about your child, there are a number of resources available including:

  • Maine 24 Hour Crisis Hotline: 1-888-568-1112

  • Trevor Lifeline: 1-866-488-7386

  • Trevor Text Line: Write the word START in the message and text it to 678-678

  • Acadia Cares Crisis Text Line: 741741

  • School counselors, administrators, nurses, and mental health providers

    • Brewer Community School: (207)404-5700

      • Principals:  Allison Kahkonen, Jason Richards, & Samantha Pangburn 

      • School Counselors:  Susan Blier, Nancy Snowdeal, &  Amelia Craven 

      • Nurse:  Carol Warmuth

      • Mental Health Providers:  Kylee Bouchard, LCSW and Alison Glanville, Psy.D

    • Brewer High School: (207)989-4140

      • Principal:  Brent Slowikowski and Scott Walker 

      • School Counselors:  Perry Bennett and Emily Sevigny 

      • Nurse:  Cathy Sherman

      • Mental Health Providers:  Marci Parizo, LCSW and Alison Glanville, Psy.D.