PSD part­ners with Wil­low­brooke

The Standard Journal - - LOCAL - De­bra Price from Wil­low­brooke at Tan­ner ex­plains a new pro­gram they wish to bring to Polk School Dis­trict pro­vid­ing men­tal health ser­vices to stu­dents.

A fac­tor that keeps some stu­dents from be­ing suc­cess­ful in the class­room has to do with their men­tal health, and now Polk School Dis­trict is putting to­gether a part­ner­ship to en­sure lo­cal youth are get­ting the care they need.

Over the past months, Polk School Dis­trict has worked with Wil­low­brooke at Tan­ner and their part­ner­ship via Polk Med­i­cal Cen­ter for in­for­ma­tive talks on sui­cide pre­ven­tion, and also on opi­oid and al­co­hol ad­dic­tion.

Now the group is bring­ing a new of­fer­ing that won’t cost the school dis­trict any extra, but will re­quire par­ents to ei­ther pro­vide in­sur­ance or get help with cov­er­ing the costs of treat­ment.

Dr. Katie Thomas, who helped or­ga­nize the meet­ings at the Col­lege and Ca­reer Academy with Wil­low­brooke at Tan­ner of­fi­cials, said that con­ver­sa­tions had af­ter those meet­ings over how the med­i­cal group could be of help to the Polk School Dis­trict through a com­ing pro­gram called Grad­u­ate Polk brought about this idea.

Stu­dents who have men­tal health prob­lems of­ten run into the problem of how to make ap­point­ments work with their school sched­ule, and in many cases par­ents can’t get the time off to get chil­dren to needed ap­point­ments with coun­selors or psy­chi­a­trists.

“Men­tal health is­sues are def­i­nitely present, they’re on the rise, and they are some­thing that we need to ad­dress,” Thomas said. “They aren’t go­ing away any­time soon, and we def­i­nitely have a need.”

To help fill that gap is a pro­posal put up by the med­i­cal group who won’t be charg­ing Polk School Dis­trict a penny, but will be uti­liz­ing school fa­cil­i­ties.

Wil­low­brooke at Tan­ner pro­gram man­ager De­bra Price brought the de­tails of a pro­posal to the school board last week, and laid out how it will work.

Es­sen­tially, the pro­gram will bring in a coun­selor for stu­dents to see dur­ing the school day at pre-set times, with par­ents’ in­sur­ance billed like reg­u­lar ap­point­ments would be with a doc­tor lo­cally or out­side the county.

Price said the idea is to not only pro­vide a stu­dent with con­ti­nu­ity in their sched­ule by get­ting them to ap­point­ments in a lo­cal en­vi­ron­ment with­out hav­ing to miss school, and also to make them­selves avail­able to par­ents to help them keep in­formed of how their child is do­ing in coun­sel­ing and go­ing so far as to go to their homes over the sum­mer.

Ad­di­tion­ally, if par­ents don’t have health in­sur­ance and stu­dents need men­tal health ser­vices, Price said Wil­low­brooke at Tan­ner will help a child’s fam­ily find the ser­vices.

“We’re al­ready work­ing with sev­eral school dis­tricts in the area,” Price said.

She said Har­al­son County, Carroll County and Dou­glass al­ready have a pro­gram in place, and Polk would be a fourth.

“The idea is to em­bed our coun­selors into the school com­mu­nity, so stu­dents can get the care they need with­out hav­ing to leave the cam­pus,” she said.

It will start with small steps, with Wil­low­brooke look­ing to start with coun­selors po­si­tioned at Cedar­town and Rock­mart High Schools, but move around as needed.

Board mem­bers did have sev­eral ques­tions about how the pro­gram would work, in­clud­ing over age limit, their in­volve­ment with the Di­vi­sion of Fam­ily and Chil­dren Ser­vices and po­lice, and how they would han­dle spe­cial cases.

Price said that all stu­dents will have an op­por­tu­nity to par­tic­i­pate if they need coun­sel­ing ser­vices, and that they will al­ways get DFCS or po­lice in­volved if nec­es­sary.

She did say that if Wil­low­brooke at Tan­ner couldn’t pro­vide a ser­vice in-house, they would get a spe­cial­ist in­volved in re­sponse to Board Mem­ber Chris Cul­ver’s ques­tion over stu­dents who might need help with is­sues like autism, for in­stance.

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