Students across the country are experiencing an increase in mental health concerns. Those working in schools know that outside health concerns of a child impact their day to day academic learning. While the ideal situation may have been for children to head to a doctor or therapist outside of the school day, the reality is it can’t always happen. This is why many schools are leaning toward a school-based therapy approach. With guardian permission, kids are able to work with healthcare professionals to get needed therapy within the school day. Taking therapists out of their clinics and putting them into school makes it more affordable and convenient.
Outside of School Doesn’t Always Work
There are a lot of reasons why therapy sessions outside of the school day can be hard for families. Sometimes there are few medical professionals in the area. This means making appointments can be difficult and you are forced to take whatever time they can give you. Kids are forced to wait and may miss valuable school time. In addition to this, adults may need to take time off of work or hire a babysitter for siblings. This is not always feasible for everyone and can add stress to the situation.
In smaller regions, limited types of therapists may be available. This means children are either forced to see someone else, not go at all, or families must travel a distance for a visit. In addition to this, the cost of these services is often out of reach for many children’s families. If they do not have the proper insurance, they may not be able to afford to be seen.
Benefits of School-Based Therapy
Putting mental health professionals in schools has been quite successful in many areas. They have found that providing opportunities for appointments within the school day helps students. When they are working with a therapist, most do better in school and negative behaviors decrease.
School-based therapy began because districts simply don’t have the staffing to handle the increasing severe mental health needs of students. Often times, students were referred to outside professionals, but they were unable to go. By placing professionals inside the school, families are more willing to get the care for kids who need it. Kids are also more likely to continue with therapy and not stop after a short time because it is convenient for everyone.
For those districts looking into this model, it is important to reach out to therapists who they may partner with. They will be able to bill insurance for some of the costs. If a student does not have insurance, grant money can be secured to assist. The ability to see someone means that more children who may otherwise have no therapy will get professional support they need.
Does your district provide school based therapy? Please share why your schools decided to go in this direction and how it has worked. It would also be helpful to include stumbling blocks you encountered and how you have learned from the process.