EP 58: Mental Health in the School System with Denise Cipolla

Your job as a parent is to advocate for your child, particularly when there is a mental health concern, because we want our children to know that, if they’re going through something emotionally, it impacts the whole family. Therapy or treatment is not ‘fix my kid’, it’s ‘help my family’. Once a child realizes this, they’ll find it easier to see their value in the family and that is immensely helpful! Joining us in conversation today is Denise Cipolla, Administrative Coordinator of Guidance and Counseling for Conroe ISD. She shares with us why mental health is such a focus for Conroe ISD and how mental health support is also a support mechanism for learning. Today, you’ll hear about the social emotional learning playbook created by teachers, administrators, and counselors, and learn what trauma informed teaching and care looks like. Denise reveals what she has witnessed happening when mental health is left unattended to, explores why some parents are emotional hostages of their children, and explains why stress and anxiety is the highest presenting problem in students of all ages, as well as where that stems from. Join us today to learn from Denise’s wealth of wisdom for parents looking to guide their children through managing their mental health. Thanks for tuning in!

Key Points From This Episode:

  • A parent’s role to advocate for their child, especially if there is a mental health concern. 
  • Three places people go when they are concerned about their child’s mental health: the church, the school, and the family physician.
  • Today’s guest, Administrative Coordinator of Guidance and Counseling, Denise Cipolla. 
  • An introduction to Denise and her family, travels, and career leading up to this role.
  • Why mental health is a focus for Conroe ISD as a support mechanism for learning.
  • The social emotional learning playbook created by teachers, administrators, and counselors.
  • Trauma informed teaching and trauma informed care.
  • Trends in mental health, and how problems are pushing down younger and younger.
  • Stress and anxiety, the highest presenting problem in students of all ages.
  • How people tend to be more kind face-to-face than via social media. 
  • Where stress and anxiety stems from: pressure to be the very best and never to fail.
  • The lasting impact of mental health issues that are left unattended to. 
  • How some parents are emotional hostages of their children.
  • The message you send your children when you do everything for them.
  • What Conroe ISD does to share resources within the county, including working with Mosaics.
  • The ideal point of contact at the school if you are concerned about your child: the school counselor or a teacher if you are not yet comfortable with the counselor.
  • How to navigate children leaving for mental health appointments. 
  • TChat, the telemental health that is delivered through Baylor School of Medicine and Texas Children’s Hospital.
  • Choosing to withdraw a child to allow them to focus on their mental health.
  • Why it is helpful for a child to know that seeking help is not ‘fix my kid’ but ‘help my family’.
  • Unique circumstances under which accommodations can be made related to mental health. 
  • Teaching our children to recognize the little, ordinary things in a culture that emphasizes excelling versus rock bottom.
  • The power of a growth mindset rather than a fixed one.
  • Why Denise recommends finding time to spend with your child at any child. 
  • Finding what works for your child to create connection.
  • Why it is so important to ‘listen to hear’ rather than ‘listen to respond’. 
  • Denise’s story of hope: allow people to help you, because in doing so you are helping them.


“Our department wants the community to know, whether they have a child in our schools or not, if they have a need, to go to the school that’s nearest them. We have resources that can assist them and that we can connect them with.” — Denise Cipolla [0:02:58]

“Mental health is a focus for Conroe ISD. We fully recognize our student’s brain health is just as important as their physical health, and both impacts their ability to learn.” — Denise Cipolla [0:03:55]

“Media has conditioned all of us, especially our children, to think that everything is either rainbows and roses or rock bottom low. We need to teach our children that plain days, where nothing particularly goes wrong, [are still good days].” — Denise Cipolla [0:42:11]

Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:

Mosaics of Mercy
Denise Cipolla on LinkedIn
Conroe ISD 


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