Students returning to school this fall may be navigating a host of new challenges, but at Kennewick School District, a new program of embedded therapists aims to ensure they don’t have to go through it alone.
After considering the benefits of providing resources for school-based mental health services, Kennewick School District contacted Comprehensive Healthcare to expand access starting in August 2021.
“We are so grateful to now have the resources to be able to meet this need,” said Brian Leavitt, student services director for Kennewick School District. “It’s no secret that our students are facing a challenging world, and we as a school community want to provide as much support as possible for their future success.”
Many students are at greater risk of developing, or showing signs of, mental health concerns in high school, and early intervention can be especially vital for students with schizophrenia or general psychosis. Despite the greater risk, students also face unique barriers in accessing care, including inconvenient schedules, especially with parents who may be busy working, perceived peer pressure or social stigma, health insurance limitations, and limited geographic access.
“It’s amazing to be able to provide mental health treatment directly in schools, so we can provide access in a place where students already are,” said William Waters, Comprehensive Healthcare division director. “Schools are also a great place to continue breaking down any stigma around mental health.”
Comprehensive Healthcare will also provide education and consultation to staff members. Teachers can serve valuable roles in the ecosystem by alleviating stigma around mental health through their own understanding of trauma-informed practices and by helping to identify when a student shows signs of needing help.
Therapists will be available through student self-referrals or referrals from counselors. No issue is too small – the mental health professionals are trained to help across a wide range of issues from a challenging school day to more severe mental health concerns. Therapists will be available throughout the school day, after school, and even during the upcoming summer.
“This will be a huge boost to enhancing a student’s emotional resiliency if they choose to see the therapist,” said Waters. “Emotional and social skills are also becoming an increasingly important part of our work environments, so teaching these skills as part of traditional education is essential.”
The initiative was made possible through funding generated by Kennewick School District. Comprehensive Healthcare hopes to continue collaborating with schools and state-funded programs to expand access to students throughout Washington, especially in rural areas.
Comprehensive Healthcare also has a wide variety of youth services in other locations through Washington, including Wrap Around with Intensive Services (WISe), New Journeys for psychosis, and inpatient services.