School-based consultation clinicians are in schools to help with the emotional and behavioral needs of students, parents, teachers and the community. Although school-based consultation has been in existence for the more than 20 years, the program is becoming a more viable option for families.
Mental health is a big issue in schools. School-based clinicians are on-site and are able to help a student or teacher immediately. Students who are struggling with emotional or behavioral issues are affected academically and socially.
School-based consultation services include behavioral health screening and referral, crisis intervention, brief skill building, community linkage, referrals and coordination, parent/guardian engagement/education, CARE team meetings and diagnostic and treatment services.
This service occurs upon a referral by school staff. This service shall be a brief intervention to assist an individual youth to identify how situations, thoughts, and behaviors influence emotions; or supporting development of a specific skill. Permission for this service shall be obtained by parent/guardian.
C&A clinicians can provide school or community resources, including behavioral health resources to a student, parent/guardian, families, or to school staff. This can include coordination of care, including students and families that are engaged in services and systems within and outside of the school building. Clinicians can provide engagement strategies, support and education to parents/guardians to promote and strengthen family involvement and family protective factors/assets and to reduce stigma related to behavioral health services. Providing or connecting parents/guardians to parenting support and educational resources that are available through the school building, neighborhood, Early Childhood Resource Center, National Alliance Mental Illness and/or available evidence-based groups such as Incredible Years and Dina Parent Component. This can also include attendance at school building open houses and home visits.
C&A clinicians participate in CARE Teams, MFE, IAT, ISP/IEP, or other school-based care coordination meetings for purposes of coordinating and planning appropriate services and supports for a specific student at risk, and his/her and family, and providing progress reports/updates.
Screening occurs of an identified individual once they are referred by school staff/Care Team due to a suspected mental health or substance use concern. Once permission from a parent/guardian is obtained, the clinician will screen for identified behavioral health concerns and make the appropriate referrals such as immediate crisis intervention, prevention services, or treatment services. Treatment services shall include school-based services, office-based, or home-based services and shall be based on the student/family need and be determined based on appropriate level of care.
Students referred by school staff (in coordination with school district’s crisis plan) will be assessed using the CSSR-S or the identified assessment for risk to others, and then address imminent issues that necessitate behavioral health intervention and referrals such as recent exposure to a traumatic event, suicidal ideation, self-harm behaviors, and aggressive/violent behaviors. Parent/guardian involvement is to be obtained as soon as possible during the course of the crisis intervention, either by school staff or the behavioral health professional.
How are school-based referrals made?
School-based clinicians establish relationships with their school through CARE teams. CARE teams are made up of a teacher from each grade level, the principal, school counselor and clinician. In these CARE team meetings, students are often identified as kids to monitor for behavioral and emotional issues. If anyone on the CARE team feels consultation services are warranted, a phone call will be made home to the parent or legal guardian. If the family is open to consultation, and the parent gives consent and signs the necessary paperwork, a student may be seen during the school day for up to 180 minutes during the school year. The goal of consultation is to link that child to the appropriate services.
School-based consultative services as well as treatment are a more feasible option for some families for multiple reasons. Those reasons include the child is getting help during the school day; a more convenient time for families versus an evening appointment; clinicians are there in the moment of the crisis situation and can provide immediate help; and can be a safety-net for students to speak with someone. Students receiving services are from diverse social, economic and cultural backgrounds.
Part of school-based therapy is being as discreet as possible and protecting the privacy of the student/family. Communication is a top priority between the school, family and student as how the student is released from the classroom/lunchroom to receive help at school.
Do clinicians see clients during breaks?When school is out during winter, spring and summer vacations, clinicians still see clients. Clinicians are encouraged to keep in contact with the parent; home visits; and perhaps seeing the child at the school. This time is also used for family sessions. Consultation ends when the school year ends.
What school districts do we cover?
C&A is under contact through Stark Mental Health and Addiction Recovery (SMHAR) with eight of the 17 Stark County school districts – Alliance, Canton and Massillon city schools and Lake, Marlington, Plain, Sandy Valley and Tuslaw local schools. We will have clinicians in 50 school buildings.
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