Looking for Closer Cooperation Between School and Health Services

Jorid Bakken Steigum from the VIP Programme will be taking maternity leave this school year to become a mother for the first time. Her job will be taken on by the psychologist Camillla Cecilie Øien, the first employee in the VIP Programme with this professional qualification. Øien hopes to facilitate closer cooperation between schools and local health service providers.

Jorid Bakken Steigum and Camillla Cecilie Øien.
Øien (on the left) and Steigum would enjoy spending more than only two months together as colleagues, but they are also looking forward to building on each other's work.

Øien applied for the position in the VIP Programme because she wants to contribute to more preventive work on a system level. She believes in the Norwegian Psychological Association’s commitment and desire to make psychologists leave their therapy rooms and start acting in other arenas.


School Cooperation is Crucial

Steigum is happy that her maternity leave allows the VIP team to bring a psychologist on board. The VIP Programme collaborates with many psychologists around the country, and Steigum hopes that Øien’s professional background can strengthen this collaboration even further.

In most cases, close cooperation between health service providers and the school is a prerequisite for effective treatment.

Øien has worked both for the Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Outpatient Clinic (BUP) and as a municipal psychologist. Collaboration with school proved to be very important to her work in both locations.

“In most cases, close cooperation between health service providers and the school is essential for effective treatment,” she says.

She points out that for children and young people with mental health problems, treatment is obviously important, but it often takes place for only about one hour per week.

“That is why the things that happen in between those treatment sessions, in the spaces where young people actually live their lives, has a much greater importance. This is where the school plays the key role,” she says.

Øien hopes that her experience can help to highlight the importance of this collaboration in the context of the VIP Programme implementation at schools around the country.

 
Teacher Focus Gives Positive Results

Øien believes that initiatives such as the VIP School Programme have many positive effects on health, partly because they focus on the idea that mental health is something we all share, and it is normal that life has its ups and downs. She believes that VIP is an established programme which has a foothold in many places around the country and is based on a solid foundation.

“One of the most positive things about the VIP Programme is that we can reach out to so many people by working through teachers. Instead of simply doing the job on our own, we use the teacher as a resource,” she says.

This coincides well with her own experience witnessing how important the teacher role can be when it comes to communicating with students who have mental health problems.

“Many people think that the psychologist is the one who is responsible for the recovery, but I have seen how important all adults around the student are. The teacher is certainly one of them,” she says.

 
“Helping Hand” Ready

Steigum, who is used to scheduling events for the entire year, finds it a little strange not to be able to plan past 3 October, especially because this school year is an exciting one for the VIP Programme. The VIP Partnership secondary school pilot project is in full swing in Buskerud. VIP Partnership research results are also likely to arrive in spring. In late October, Mia Iversen from the VIP Programme is going to Boston to present the programme at a large healthcare conference.

Steigum admits that this school year is going to be full of events that she would rather experience as part of the team. However, she has learnt that each VIP school year is exciting in its own way.

“Besides, it is not unlikely that there will be some focus on mental health and life management skills during my maternity leave as well,” she says with a smile.

“You know that you have the “helping hand”* ready, says Øien.

“I definitely have the “helping hand” ready,” concludes Steigum.

To learn more about the VIP Programme activities this school year, follow us on Facebook or check out our Activity Calendar. *You will find more information about the “helping hand,” which is part of an exercise on Psychological First Aid, here: “Four-Corner-Exercise about Emotions”. — Please note that the exercise is in norwegian.

   
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