April 2013 Update – Community Wellness Task Force

The Community Wellness Task Force was established last year following the recent tragedies at the high school. The first meeting was held on March 5, 2012.  At that meeting, attended by approximately 14 school and community leaders, it was determined that the first course of action would be to do an assessment of the community mental health resources, which support our youth. It was also determined there was a need to find a professional(s) from outside our community to help.

On June 7th more than 70 community members participated in a daylong event to complete the assessment.  Dr. Darcy Hutchins, from Johns Hopkins University, was the facilitator.  Additionally, Dr. Mark Reinecke, from Northwestern University Feingberg School of Medicine, a national expert on depression and suicide, became a consultant to the task force and provided a presentation on current best practices. Our community members gained a better understanding of what our community was facing and what we currently had to offer.  The event was co-funded by the City of Lake Forest, the Village of Lake Bluff and Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital.

Following the June 7th meeting Dr. Reinecke synthesized all he learned about the community and our organizations and came up with very specific recommendations based on the best and most promising practices in the field of suicide treatment and prevention.  He shared his recommendations to a group of about 18 members of the task force on September 14, 2012.  The recommendations are based on 3 types of prevention; primary – for the general population, secondary – for select, high-risk groups, and tertiary – for those in need of immediate help.

If you or someone you know are in immediate danger, call 911.
You may also contact the following organizations for assistance:

National Suicide Hotline: 1.800.273.TALK (8255)

  Lake County Crisis Center: 847.377.8088   

Dr. Reinecke suggests that we start with the most immediate needs first and work our way backwards to primary prevention strategies.  The recommendations were broken down by what the various organizations could provide, such as the hospital, the schools, community organizations and parents.

Recommendations suggested by Dr. Mark Reinecke
Presented to the Community Wellness Task Force August 2012

  • Prevention Strategies IProvide immediate care for youth who are currently suicidal. Identify the youth, and provide treatment and prevention through: development of a list of local clinicians to help with rapid response, provide  a pocket card with emergency phone numbers, implement the use of the Columbia Suicide Severity Rating scales to assess youth, implement use of Teen Screen (GLAD-PC.org) in pediatrician offices and emergency rooms, make screening tools available at high schools, list warning signs for parents on local websites, develop or revise school suicide protocol and consider a local option for a Child and Adolescent Mood Clinic (CAM) associated with Northwestern Hospital and University.
  • Prevention Strategies IIProvide education for students and parents. Offer annual seminars for parents on early identification and prevention of depression, disseminate information including suicide prevention facts, suicide and substance abuse, suicide and bullying, as handouts and website links, use high school health classes to develop competencies and social problem solving, address depression, anxiety, substance use, and stress.
  • Prevention Strategies IIIProvide school – based prevention and treatment. Consider group therapy treatment called “Coping with Depression Course – Adolescent’s” (CWD-A) and encourage youth to self- report or report concerns regarding friends.
  • Prevention Strategies IVProvide secondary prevention for selected, high risk groups through mental health providers. Possible programs include; Penn Resilience – Attributional Retraining, Compas’ Family Intervention for depressed parents and Cognitive Bias Modification (CBM)which is a computer based treatment.
  • Prevention Strategies VOffer real-time support. Possible technology related solutions include; Catch-It App, MoodGym App or Thrive App.
  • Prevention Strategies VIProvide secondary prevention for families of selected, high risk groups through mental health providers. Possible programs include: Family Talk (Beardslee, 2008), Family Bereavement Program (Brent 2009) and New Beginnings Program (Arizona State for divorced parents and their children)
  • Prevention Strategies VIIHospital Based Programs. Considerations include: developing a Child and Adolescent Mood Clinic (CAM), provide screening and assessment for every patient, every contact, develop case manager protocol such as Brent & Clark post-hospitalization for 3-6 months.
  • Prevention Strategies VIIInnovative Prediction. Consider Cognitive Inference Assessment tool (Tom Joiner and Matt Nock) and embed at Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital through a CAM or other strategy.


Implementation of the recommendations include (most recent items in bold):

Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital

  • Has covered all the costs of Dr. Reinecke’s work as consultant to the Community Wellness Task Force.
  • Created a list of mental health professionals available in the community and posted in on the NWLF website.
  • Created a reference card that includes emergency phone numbers.
  • Hospital leaders are responsible for mobilizing pediatricians associated with the hospital in the hopes of having every pediatrician do a quick depression screening for all adolescents at their annual physicals.  Many have already adopted the screening tool and many more are considering this as part of their routine.
  • Depression screening for patients in the emergency room is currently in place for adults and the logistics of screening all 12-18 year olds is also under discussion.
  • The hospital is actively seeking partnerships to provide mental health services to our community.
  • Co-sponsored the Middle School Youth Summit in Fall 2012.


Lake Forest High School

  • Is participating in 2013 National Depression Awareness week May 6 – 10. Events include:
    • Monday, May 6 – Dr. Mark Reinecke, PhD, Northwestern University Teen depression expert Dr. Mark Reinecke will speak be here from Northwestern University to speak to our students about ways to Keep Calm and Carry On – Managing stress, anxiety, tension, worry, pressure, parents and school!
    • Tuesday, May 7 – Erasing the Distance Troup This theater troupe of professional actors will highlight the words and true stories of three very different teens facing depression, followed by an interactive dialogue with the audience
    • Wednesday, May 8– (*Staff Only* event ) Dr. Karen Swartz, MD, Johns Hopkins University Director, ADAP (Adolescent Depression Awareness Program)
    • Thursday, May 9 – LFHS Lighthouse Panel   Our own LFHS Lighthouse panel will be presenting stories from real teens about depression, including  first-hand stories, discussion and video. (Ericka’s Lighthouse is an organization founded in response to the suicide of a North Shore student named Ericka).
    • Friday, May 10 – Namaste Day Local yoga instructors will lead students and staff through quiet Yoga Nidra, teaching the fundamental concepts and basics of this peaceful practice to decrease stress and anxiety
    • Friday , May 10– ”Enjoy The Journey” to College Q&A LFHS “Enjoy The Journey” is hosting this informative event, where Juniors will hear from LFHS guidance counselors, and Seniors who are headed off to college – there will be tips and tricks for managing the college investigation and application process in the most thoughtful, efficient and stress-free way possible! 
  • Co-leading revised curriculum for “Peer Training” program with CROYA.  12 student groups facilitated this school year.
  • Over 50 teachers (plus 50 from District 67 and 65) were trained this year in “Capturing Kids Hearts”. It includes a 3-day professional development opportunity designed to build positive, productive and trusting relationships among teachers and with their students.
  • January 2013 key responders participated in advanced “gate keeper” training by Dr. Mark Reinecke.
  • Adolescent Depression Awareness Training (ADAP) now offered in all freshman health classes.
  • Planning underway to include lessons for students in all grades through wellness/PE classes annually.
  • Expanded training for all health teachers and social workers. All have been trained by Dr. Karen Swartz of Johns Hopkins University on the ADAP – Adolescent Depression Awareness Program.
  • Suicide protocols reviewed and revised.
  • A group of faculty and students participated in Walk out of the Darkness in September 2012.
  • Social Workers increased visibility in the school by creating a newsletter and will meet all students yearly through group meetings.
  • All staff will complete an annual “signs and symptoms of depression” training. 
  • All faculty were trained by Dr. John Jochem in Spring 2012
  • May 2012 – participated in National Depression Awareness Week offering daily student presentations and to encourage students to seek help for themselves or friends.
  • Ongoing and continued focus on Emotional Wellness and Enjoy the Journey activities to reduce stress, including the all school walk in Spring 2012.

Lake Bluff and Deer Path Middle Schools

  • ONE LIFE: LIVE WELL (OLLW) week of May 6th-10th This is a middle school community-wide campaign designed to create awareness for students, staff and parents surrounding the importance of physical, mental, and emotional wellness. The campaign at DPM-W and Lake Bluff Middle School will focus on the following areas: Stress Management – Assertive Communication- Relationship Building – Physical Health & Fitness – Healthy Decision Making
  • Deer Path Middle School and Lake Bluff Middle will provide presentations, featuring a Lake Forest High School student panel supported by Erika’s Lighthouse, for students &/or parents on May 16, 2013. The goal is to establish student peer support to increase awareness of the signs/symptoms of depression and how and where to turn for help for themselves or for friends.
  • Deer Path Middle School revised curriculum for mental health units and worked with Erika’s Lighthouse and Elyssa’s Mission as part of the review process.
  • Over 40 teachers (plus 60 from LFHS and District 65) were trained this year in “Capturing Kids Hearts”. It includes a 3-day professional development opportunity designed to build positive, productive and trusting relationships among teachers and with their students.
  • Both middle schools were awarded with a 3-year grant to provide a research based Life Skills program from the University of Colorado.  The program, Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development, is designed to strengthen social skills and problem solving skills, which will result in reduced substance use later in life. The tri-district SAP coordinator wrote the grant request and will assist with implementation.
  • Deer Path Middle School and Lake Bluff School social workers participated in training with Dr. Mark Reinecke on the signs, symptoms and treatment of depression January 2013.
  • Participated in a Youth Summit in Fall 2012 to examine stressors that face middle school students in Lake Bluff and Lake Forest.  St. Mary’s and Country Day students were part of the summit.
  • Deer Path Middle School and Lake Bluff School social workers participated in “Gate Keeper training with Dr. John Jochem Spring 2012.  


  • The Peer Training program for student groups has been revised and 12 classes have been co-taught by CROYA and LFHS Staff.
  • The partnership with The Child, Adolescent and Family Development Center, LLC (CAFDC / CAFRC) continues to offer counseling; as well as 2 programs for substance abuse (Re:Group for high school & Re:Group Campus for college)
  • Family Service obtained 2 grants which provide 5 hours per week of youth and family counseling at CROYA, at no charge to the families. Please click here for more information.
  • There is a new and improved training program for all adult chaperones who participate in student retreats, which includes risk assessment for depression and suicide.
  • CROYA contributes financially to the work of the Emotional Wellness Task Force.


  • Co-sponsoring Dr. Karen Swartz of John’s Hopkins University to speak to parents regarding depression awareness on May 7, 2013.
  • Sponsoring presentation by Ty Sells for parents and middle school students on May 9 &10, 2013 on coping strategies and pro-social behavior. 
  • Facilitating the research and possible implementation of a “Text a Tip” anonymous reporting system.  The system would be available to students and families 24/7, with area mental health professionals responding to the texts.
  • Created a website presence for the Community Wellness Task Force, so that community members could get regular updates and access resources in a central location.
  • Created a clinical advisory board of mental health professionals.
  • Re-vamped Red Ribbon Race in October 2013 to include health related booth, included those related to mental health.
  • Added a Panic link on their website that directs those that call to local resources.
  • Provided Dr. Meg Meeker, nationally recognized pediatrician, for a community presentation in October 2012.
  • Partnered with Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital to provide a Middle School Youth Summit in September 2012.

LB District 65 PTO, LF District 115 and 67 APT and School District’s Foundations

  • Donated funds to sustain the work of the task force.
  • Are promoting attendance at evening events to educate parents on signs and symptoms.
  • Have chosen “Community” as a yearly theme for 2012-13.

City of Lake Forest and Village of Lake Bluff

  • Donated funds annually for the work of the task force in 2013.
  • The police departments created a Crisis Communication Hub to notify community leaders of any crisis that might impact the community.


Lake Forest College

  • Coordinated a meeting of private mental health providers to review mental health assessments and treatments recommended by Dr. Reinecke and the work of the Community Wellness Task Force in March 2013.
  • Agreed to facilitate an intensive group therapy, “Coping with Depression Awareness – Adoclescents” as recommended by Dr. Reinecke.  Training to occur summer 2013.  Group will be open to high school students during the school year.



  • Hosted a presentation on the work of the Community Wellness Task Force April 2013. Are considering offering a signs and symptoms training for youth ministers and volunteers and annually bring information to youth and parents.
  • Christ Church sponsoring a youth and parent presentation on April 21, 2013 – “Suicide Prevention, A Road to Healing, Education and Prevention” by Dr. Elizabeth Ladin-Gross.
  • Sponsored a community meeting featuring a panel of local mental health professionals, to help parents learn more about how to cope with depression and suicide at Gorton Center in April 2012.
  • Sending a representative to Community Wellness Task Force Meetings and participated in June 7, 2012 Community Resource Assessment.


Private/Parochial Schools

  • Social Worker and Psychologist from Lake Forest Country Day School (LFCDS) are professionally trained in suicide/depression awareness and assessment and participate in professional education workshops that focus on this topic.
  • Lake Forest Country Day Upper School social worker utilizes Erika’s Lighthouse curriculum to educate 7th and 8th graders about depression and suicide awareness.
  • Increased amount of time spent in advisory at LFCDS to allow advisors the opportunity to know students well and better identify those most vulnerable and at high risk.
  • Provided pesentation to parents by Dr. David Levin and LFCDS Upper School Social Worker on April 25th about social and emotional concerns common in Middle School, including depression and suicide awareness.
  • Alerts parents about community events relevant to social and emotional issues.
  • Are represented at the Community Wellness Task Force Meetings and participated in June 7, 2012 Community Resource Assessment.