Aggression, self-harm, depression, anxiety, lack of motivation, acting out in class, alcohol and/or drug abuse – the array of behavioral health issues which can be found on almost any school campus in the country is also the reason Weakley County Schools offers an extensive menu of mental health services.
And now another safety net has been added to the mix.
The Behavioral Health Safety Net for Children (BHSN) is the newest service made possible through Carey Counseling Center. It provides essential outpatient mental health services to uninsured Tennessee children ages 3-17 and helps connect clients to long-term coverage if possible. The services include assessment and evaluation; individual, group and family therapy; case management; family support services; medication management; pharmacy assistance and coordination; and transportation to and from sessions.
“We are delighted to add another behavioral health resource,” noted Lorna Benson, Coordinator for Weakley County Safe Schools. “While we are grateful for the two school social workers employed by the district, our school counselors, and our contracted services with Carey Counseling, until we can get a fulltime social worker at every school, we need to utilize every avenue available to us for the sake of our children.”
To be eligible for BHSN for Children, an individual must not have private health insurance, or their private health insurance does not include mental health coverage, or all mental health benefits under the private health insurance have been exhausted for the year, noted Benson, in a recent explanation to school administrators. The outpatient services are generally a mix of both home and school visits based upon the needs/situation. The number of times that they are seen is based on need, the average is twice per month.
“It’s good to have something we can look to as a resource for our students with no insurance,” said Weakley County Schools social worker Brittany Jaco, who, along with Kelli Sims focusing on special education students, provide the first stop for children and youth experiencing behavioral health issues.
Jaco and Sims provide necessary counseling or can direct students to the Student Assistance Program (SAP). Scott Smiley of Carey Counseling is contracted for two days a week on site at schools to offer help through SAP.
Another new resource is the School Based Behavioral Health Liaison Hailey Hanson who has recently set up her office at Greenfield School. This on-site counseling service is made possible through a State of Tennessee Department of Mental Health grant to Carey Counseling.
“The grant specifically seeks to expand mental health services to rural areas,” explained Benson. “Data analysis helped to determine Greenfield as the first of what is hoped to be other future school-based sites for the county.”
“Of course, it would be ideal to have a social worker at each school to provide direct care or link students in need with the appropriate resources, but at this point we are limited in what the budget will allow,” noted Randy Frazier, director of Weakley County Schools. “Until such time as the state expands funding to cover the critical area of behavioral health more comprehensively, we must rely on the outstanding work of our two social workers, the ongoing relationship with Carey Counseling and take advantage of every grant opportunity presented.”
To learn more about the Behavioral Health Safety Net for Children, contact Carey Counseling at 800-611-7757.
(by Karen Campbell, Weakley County Schools Communications Director)