Union County schools focusing on mental health therapy
Recently, the district unanimously voted to use federal COVID funds to pilot a school-based virtual therapy program.
UNION COUNTY, N.C. (WBTV) – Union County Public Schools leaders are working with Atrium Health to tackle the mental and emotional effects the COVID-19 pandemic and its isolation has had on students and staff.
Recently, the district unanimously voted to use federal COVID funds to pilot a school-based virtual therapy program. UCPS has a total of about 19 mental health therapists, nine of whom are actually employed by the district, while the others are out of a partnership with North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.
To accommodate as many students who need help as possible, the program will be focused on virtual mental health therapy.
During this three-month trial period, there will be one school-based virtual therapist available between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. on weekdays at five high schools.
After the trial period, Atrium Health will add another therapist and expand to all 12 high schools. They’re expecting this will provide up to about 1,200 sessions in a 12-month period.
This new partnership was created out of a growing need for mental health professionals after the existing resources were beginning to stretch thin.
“These are sensitive topics, like self-harm, or possible suicidal ideation. These are different topics that a teacher or a normal school counselor may not be able to have that much expertise or experience with. We need someone who is trained in these fields to really be the ones to be the expert,” Union County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Andrew Houlihan said.
The five participating high schools at the start of the program are:
- Forest Hills High
- Monroe High
- Parkwood High
- Piedmont High
- Sun Valley High
The hope is these additional therapists will eliminate the waitlist and help take some of the load off Union County school counselors and social workers.
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