Youth First Highlights Heidi Mikac – Social Work Week 2022

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Heidi Mikac, LSW, Youth First Social Worker at Paul Hadley Middle School in Morgan County

Q:What called you to become a social worker? 

A: The reason why I became a social worker was to learn more about suicide prevention.  I’ve had three important people in my life take their own life.  I wanted to learn about the signs and symptoms of depression so I could help prevent suicide.    

What is the most rewarding part of your job? 

The most rewarding part of my job is when a parent or a teacher tells me that they’ve noticed a positive change in the student I’m helping.  

Which mental health tools/strategies do you think are the most impactful or effective for students? 

I would say coping skills and the Tween Series presentations have had the most impact on students at my school.  I’ve had a few kids tell me that they were worried about a friend who was considering suicide and I was able to make mental health referrals. Teaching kids what to do when they notice signs and symptoms of depression in their friends is so important.  I’m forever grateful for Tween Series.    

In what ways has the Covid-19 pandemic affected youth mental health? 

Unfortunately, Covid-19 increased students’ anxiety and suicidal behaviors.