Solutions Counseling and St. Michael-Albertville Schools have teamed up to provide school-based mental health services at St. Michael-Albertville High School. The program is designed to identify and assist students in learning effective ways to manage symptoms and problems affecting their mental health and school performance.
According to Solutions Clinical Director Craig Rens, in Minnesota research shows that 9% of school-age children and 5% of pre-school children have a serious emotional disturbance. Children and youth with these problems contribute to reduced graduation rates, increased involvement in juvenile corrections, and substance abuse problems. The school based program is meant to improve these outcomes for St. Michael-Albertville students.
Rens states that while his program is not the only school-based program in the state, it is unique in that there is no financial impact to the school district nor is it funded by state grants. "Mental health problems affect everyone," Rens said, "So our staff wanted to make certain all students in need – regardless of finances -- were able to be seen without relying on outside funding that could go away at anytime. I’m proud to say, that to meet that need, all of our school based therapists committed to donating time for students who have financial hardships." School referral with parent approval is required for services.
St. Michael-Albertville Superintendent, Dr. James Behle said of the partnership, "We are seeing an increase in the number of students where mental health problems get in the way of succeeding at school. This program allows students to get needed help faster than at traditional mental health centers and in a place they are comfortable."