Mental Health program at Southwest shows progress

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

3 services available; students taking advantage of opportunity

During the 2018-2019 school year, the Southwest school district partnered with the Clark Center to offer on-campus mental health services.

Kandie Eads, Southwest special services director, said the Clark Center does this for many schools in the area and offers several services.

“Southwest takes advantage of three of those services,” she said. “First, the Clark Center comes in and does an evaluation with the student and parents, then, they offer individual counseling sessions, and finally, they provide case management where they work with the student, parents and the school to help the student get through.”

Southwest teachers, administrators and secretaries all participate in frequent professional development days focused on mental health.

“The Clark Center teaches us mental health techniques that we can use as educators to help our students in the best, most professional way,” Eads said. “The services are only available to our students, and at this time, there are 15 students getting individual counseling from a certified therapist and eight in case management.”

Eads said the Clark Center comes to the school and talks with the students, the parents, the counselor and the administrators about how things are going with the program.

“Parents really appreciate the help with getting things started,” she said. “They especially appreciate the evaluation that get things going.

“It can be more comfortable for the parents and the students to do this at the school where they are all familiar, rather than at a secondary location.”

With the case management, the Clark Center makes sure to speak with everyone involved to coordinate the best route of care for the student.

“I haven’t heard a lot of feedback from the students regarding the program,” Eads said. “But, I will say for the students who are getting help, their mental health is getting stronger.

“We hope with the professional development, we will be able to see more of an overall difference in the student body.”

One of the main focuses of the professional development is to help the students that don’t get, and may not need, services.

“With this training, we will be able to help that percent of the students who don’t quite need individual counseling, but may need a little more help,” Eads said. “I think as we progress with programs like this to help our students, [there will be an ongoing need for them because] mental health issues will continue to get worse.

“Student situations with crisis in their lives are only getting worse, and I think as a school district, we can start to alleviate that pressure on them.”

According to Eads, Southwest is addressing a common concern in school district across the nation with this program.

“I think people are concerned with violence in schools, and I think that addressing students’ mental health is the most important first step in fighting that,” she said. “As educators, we want to get our students to be productive citizens, and mental health is a big part of that.”

Another one of the services that the Clark Center offers is student-parent interactive therapy, and Eads said thankfully, Southwest has not needed to add that.

Southwest is able to get these services for free, as the Clark Center bills Medicaid for services.

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