District partners with community therapists to support students’ mental health

August 11, 2017
Folded hands

Ava had a lot of friends and really enjoyed her classes in eighth grade, but every day she went to school she carried with her conflict from home. Her mom had recently become unemployed and her dad was out of work due to a disability. Without a steady income, tensions were running high and resources were scarce. Stress and anxiety were taking a toll on Ava when a favorite teacher of hers suggested she talk with a therapist at school. Having someone she could talk to and express her fears to in confidence has been a tremendous help to Ava as her home continues to be in transition.

When Ava enters ninth grade at Stillwater Area High School this fall, she’ll find support at the Wellness Center, which has been relocated, renovated and redesigned to include three private offices where therapists meet with students individually. The offices will be staffed by FamilyMeans accredited therapists Nora Eiesland and Lenaya Kerlin. In addition, a member of the Youth Service Bureau will be on site to provide chemical health screenings and related support, and a dietician from Lakeview Hospital will be available to help counsel students on good nutrition. A large group meeting space and a welcoming reception area will also be available to students who seek help at the Wellness Center, which is open during school hours.

In 2016, an anonymous donor made a $100,000 commitment to FamilyMeans and challenged members of the community to match the contribution. The Wellness Center Challenge specifically supports school-based mental health services throughout Stillwater schools. These funds will increase therapist hours so more kids can find help when they need it most.

Last year, FamilyMeans therapists saw an average of 159 students each month districtwide, which resulted in 2,568 sessions over the course of the year. For the 2017-2018 school year, FamilyMeans will have six therapists working in 11 Stillwater schools.

Nationally, 20 percent of children ages 13-18 in the United States experience a severe mental health disorder at some point in their lives, according to the National Alliance on Mental Health. Kids in our community experience severe mental health issues, too. It’s important they know help is available. Providing support in our schools allows students to meet with therapists in a timely manner and in a familiar and convenient setting.

Anxiety. Depression. Bullying. Relationship conflict. School stress. Suicidal thoughts. Cliques. Social media. These are issues school-based therapists address with students on a regular basis.

The need is real and it’s in our community. Together, our support will make a difference. Please consider a donation to the Wellness Center Challenge to support the kids in our schools who benefit from school-based therapy. To learn more or to donate, go to www.familymeans.org/donate or call FamilyMeans at (651) 439-4840.