Project AWARE collaboration brings new mental health opportunities for students

Published: Feb. 22, 2021 at 6:26 PM CST
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One school district is working the make mental health services more convenient for students as a partnership with health professionals makes a big difference for kids in need.

Students across the School District of La Crosse will soon have new options available for mental health services..

“It’s one part of a larger strategy we’re working on with Project AWARE, to really support stronger mental health, prevention and services for students in our school district,” said Curt Teff, Community Services director with the School District of La Crosse.

With grant funding of about $200,000, the district is partnering with Gundersen Health System to hire professionals to be on hand when needed.

“We have about 45 different community mental health providers who come into our schools currently to serve students,” Teff added. “A lot of students receiving that support have insurance or have resources to be able to pay for that.”\

However, for those who may be struggling, the district is looking to fill that gap.

“The program design is to have one provider dedicated to elementary schools, and one provider dedicated to our middle and high schools,” said Teff.

One key concept the district and Gundersen hope to bring with the partnership is importance of convenience to kids.

“They’ll be able to meet individually with kids and families for care to provide typical mental health services you’d find in an outpatient clinic,” said Josh Court, Behavioral Health Services administrative director with Gundersen Health System. “We’ll also have these therapists doing things at a larger, broader level within the school. We can see staff training, seminars or webinars talking about things like healthy sleep or discipline or screen time.”

“We think there’s a lot that can be gained by providing psychoeducation support to students about mental wellness and taking care of yourselves,” Teff said.

“All of this, I think, is going to pay off in dividends for the school district, for the staff and for our community,” added Court.

Two therapists will have offices in one of the middle school buildings and have set office hours at each of the schools for needed services.

The School District of La Crosse and Gundersen look to have applicants for the two positions filled before the end of the current school year.

For more information on Project AWARE through the School District of La Crosse, click here.

If you are interested in applying for a clinical therapist position, click here.

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