GREEN BAY — The public school district will offer therapy services over the summer, marking a first in how it addresses the mental health needs of its students.
As the last day of school approaches, this lack of mental health support can have consequences for students who rely on it.
“Not everyone is excited to go in the summer,” said Christina Gingle, associate director of student services at Green Bay Area Public Schools. “Summer might give them some uncertainty.”
The service will be available to students across the district, with seven schools providing space for students and therapists to meet. The schools are: Sullivan Elementary, Aldo Leopold Community School (K-8), Danz Elementary, Franklin Middle School, Edison Middle School, East High School, and Dr. Rosa Minoka-Hill School (K-12).
The first-time ability to offer summer therapy is a result of GBAPS District Student Services being more adequately staffed, Gingle said.
The expanded therapy service is free to the district since the school is open for summer school, Gingle said. Students will have the choice of having therapy sessions at school or going to the clinic of the associated mental health provider.
Students who choose to attend therapy appointments at school will be able to retain the same therapists they have worked with throughout the school year.
However, school mental health services are not free, regardless of the time of year. Parents will still be responsible for insurance co-payments during the summer months, which can range from $25 to $50 per session, depending on the family’s insurance plan.
Some of the advantages of having mental health services on school premises are the fact that they do not require students to recalibrate at a brand new clinic, ease of transportation, and being peer-to-peer.
When students don’t continue to care for the summer but return in the fall, it takes time for therapists to reestablish rapport with the student, said Bree Decker, director of community engagement at Connections for Mental Wellness.
“I see a general trend in line with the pandemic that where children typically fall into their mental health care in the summer, children are now receiving mental health care throughout the summer,” Decker said. . “The poor mental health doesn’t just stop in June. There’s more awareness and a will to continue.”
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In Brown County, mental health care providers can be scarce for its population of more than 63,300 children. For every 10,000 children, there are less than eight psychologists, about 26 registered social workers and two psychiatrists, the latter of whom can diagnose and prescribe medication for children in need of mental health support.
This means that parents will likely struggle to find a mental health professional to attend to their child’s mental health needs during the two summer months.
In the United States, mental disorders affect millions of children between the ages of 3 and 17, according to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, whose most common diagnoses include ADHD, anxiety and depression and mental disorders. behaviour.
While behavioral problems statistically decrease with age, depression and anxiety increase exponentially between ages 3 and 17.
This corresponds to the most common problems among students in Brown County. According to Decker, children are suffering from depression and anxiety at very high rates due to the pandemic.
Joanne Klysen, director of community counseling at Foundations, a nonprofit that provides counseling to Bay View Middle School, Lineville Intermediate School and Aldo Leopold Community School, said her three embedded therapists are doing their best to follow up. parents towards the end of the school year, but this can be difficult to coordinate.
Klysen anticipates that some students will not accept him for summer services. Foundations therapists do their best to provide students with summer safety plans and tools towards the end of the school year. For these students, the first weeks of school in the fall are devoted to reviewing skills.
This summer, therapy will be readily available to Klysen’s roster of students if they so choose.
“If the kids can get there during the summer, it can be really interesting for them to maintain a therapy program,” Klysen said. “And if they can’t get to a physical building, we offer telehealth, Zoom, and similar platforms.”
Gingle said providing students with a continuum of mental health care can promote different avenues for students to stay moving and connected.
“Not everyone is excited to go in the summer. Some students are uncertain. Now we have student services staff on site to help students continue what happened during the school year. “, said Gingle. “We are happy to continue doing what we have been doing through the school year with problem solving and these supports.”
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