Mobile, Ala. (PRWEB) August 12, 2014
While Gulf Coast families prepare for a new school year, stocking up on supplies and uniforms, AltaPointe is preparing to help make this school year a successful one for kids living with mental health issues. Six area school systems now have school-based therapists who work for AltaPointe.
“We have done this in a limited fashion for years,” Olivia Nettles, AltaPointe Children’s Outpatient Director, said. “We just have never had therapists doing this full time. School-based therapy is being recommended by the Alabama Departments of Mental Health and Education and is a national trend, as well.”
Time is of the essence when it comes to treating children with mental health issues. Staffing schools with onsite counselors allows for consistency and continuity of care for children. “Students and counselors are no longer waiting for parents to take off work and get them to their appointments. Therapy is real time, with real-life events,” Dr. Wanda Hannon, Mobile County Public Schools System’s Health and Social Services Supervisor, said.
During the 2013-2014 school year, AltaPointe’s therapists cared for well over 2, 000 students who made great strides to overcome mental health issues. Hannon reported tremendous improvement in behavior and attendance, not only for those students but for the entire school.
With an increased collaboration between school counselors and teachers, our patients should experience a reduction in symptoms and an improvement in coping skills and other strengths in a shorter period of time, said school-based therapist Stephanie Pope.
Pope is a marriage and family therapist with seven years of experience working with families. “School-based therapy makes sense,” Pope said. “It puts school staff, parents, and therapists on the same page. Communication and compliance are two of the most important things for success in therapy; these are increased in school-based therapy.”
AltaPointe staff members are present at schools in Baldwin, Mobile, Chickasaw, Satsuma and Saraland. Services are planned to begin in Washington County in August.
Over the summer, Sandra Parker, MD, AltaPointe Chief Medical Officer, along with Nettles, presented information on AltaPointe’s school-based therapy at the National Association of School Nurses conference in San Antonio, Texas, in July. Hannon, asked them to present ‘Healthy Kids, Schools, and Communities: A Collaborative Model for Integrated School-based Mental Health Services’ at the conference to help others replicate this collaborative model of integrative mental health services in the school setting. They were joined by Denise Reimer, a MCPSS social worker, and Jennifer Langhinrichsen-Rohling, PhD.