NORTH HAVEN — Starting next school year, older students will have access to more in-school mental health services.
Community Health Center will provide professional clinicians to the middle and high schools under a plan recently approved by the Board of Education. The program will likely start with one clinician serving both schools, with the option to increase clinicians based on future need.
“We have licensed clinical social workers that come into schools, have identified spaces within a school, and they provide individual, group, and family therapy, to students in need,” said Jane Hylan, director of student-based services with Community Health Center, Inc. The program is in 180 schools statewide, including Meriden, Waterbury and Middletown.
The new program will come at no cost to the Board of Education or town.
“In this day and age of a lot of mental health needs in our communities, this just seems like a very logical addition to our services,” said Dana Corriveau, director of student services with North Haven Public Schools.
Community Health Center’s clinicians will be in addition to the school’s 15 social workers and counselors.
Instead, the program is supposed to provide additional services that the school-based professionals cannot perform, due to legal and educational limitations.
The clinicians will act similarly to a private therapist and must get parental consent if a student is under 18.
“In any community, not just North Haven, there's always going to be people in need of services and you know, children spend most of their days in school, parents spend most of their days at work – so this really makes it convenient for children to access these services during the school day,” Corriveau said.
During Hylan’s presentation to the school board Thursday, one board member asked if students are ever ostracized because their therapy might be obvious to other students. Hylan said in many schools, they’ve seen an opposite response.
“Over time a lot of the stigma around therapy and behavioral health is eliminated,” Hylan said. “We have students referring students, where they think their friend would benefit from services.”
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