As a TRUST Specialist for 22 years with Miami-Dade County Public Schools I want to respond to the June 19 story Number of Miami-Dade students ‘Baker Acted’ on the rise. There might be a close correlation (not proven cause and effect) between the increase of Baker Acts and the dramatic decrease in TRUST Specialists in Miami-Dade Public Schools.
Since the late 1980s, we have been crisis counselors at the school sites. We all have had extensive training in crisis management, and a number of us are clinically trained and hold licenses in the state of Florida. We hold licenses as clinical psychologists and social work, mental health and marriage and family counselors.
As TRUST Specialists, we have been the first line of intervention, as well as provided the schools with the much-needed clinical input. We have always worked closely with the administration and school police to make the best decision for the students. Depression and suicide do not stand on their own; there are a multitude of factors that contribute to these manifestations, and the TRUST Specialist has always been in the forefront of early intervention.
Like in any crisis situation, having two opinions or more has always been better than one. After having discussions with other counseling professionals, I believe that our presence has always played a vital role in our students’ mental health.
Carlos Zaragoza, TRUST Specialist, Miami Dade County Public Schools, Miami