TRANSPARENCIES

a monthly newsletter from Integral Care

August: Working Together for Child & Youth Mental Health

 

Image of boy and girl with Transparencies text

A Message From Our CEO

 

Later this month, our children pick up their backpacks and head back to school. It’s an exciting time of year, full of promise as well as its share of stress. Supporting the overall health and well-being of children and youth gives every one of them the opportunity to thrive and meet their full potential this school year. Children and youth need healthy food, regular exercise, a good night’s rest and access to health care to succeed in school. They also need access to therapists and educational programs to support their emotional health. Providing mental health care in schools means our kids can be ready to learn in school.

 

According to the recently released 2019 Kids Count Data Book, Texas ranks 41st in the nation for child well-being, on a few key indicators – health, education, economic well-being and family and community. The report notes that Texas’s child population growth far outpaces the national average. We account for ¼ of the national increase since 1990. And soon, the majority of children and youth in Texas will be Latinx.

 

Keeping our children and youth safe and healthy is an utmost concern. A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, surveyed a small group of U.S.- born Latinx adolescents and found that nearly half of them worried about being reported to immigration officials or being separated from families. Those who expressed concerns about immigration policy also had increased anxiety and lower sleep scores. This is just one example of a particular group of kids feeling extra stress, reinforcing the need for increased access to mental health services in schools.

 

The good news is that the Texas Legislature made investments towards improving our public school system this session. Schools are working hard to implement Senate Bill 11, legislation to improve mental health resources available in schools. The many provisions adopted by the bill include behavioral health training accountability, trauma training for teachers and the creation of the Mental Health Care Consortium to bring together psychiatric professionals from higher education institutions and mental healthcare providers to improve access to mental health resources for children and youth. The Consortium is made up of state-wide institutions of higher education including Dell Medical School, the Health and Human Services Commission, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and three non-profit organizations. Senate Bill 11 also:

 

  • Requires a Mental Health Authority to employ a non-physician mental health professional to provide training and serve as a resource for school districts via their regional education service center.
  • Trains educators in trauma-informed care and provides for locally-adopted optional training in healthy interpersonal relationships.
  • Requires the Consortium to establish or expand telemedicine or telehealth programs for identifying and assessing behavioral health needs and providing access to mental health care services with a focus on the behavioral health needs of at-risk children and youth.
  • Proposes a grant program for loan repayment for school counselors and licensed specialists in school psychology.
  • Requires school districts to incorporate instruction in digital citizenship and include information on the potential consequences of cyberbullying.

According to the surgeon general, every teacher has at least three children or youth in their class right now living with a mental health need. 50% of all lifetime cases of mental health conditions begin by age 14 and 75% by age 24. Early intervention and on-campus access to mental health care is crucial to improve health outcomes for young people. Intervening while the brain is still growing increases the chances for recovery and a healthy life. The benefits of mental health services in schools are vast. 

 

Travis County schools, parents and mental health providers are stronger together, working collaboratively to make sure kids have the skills and resources needed to communicate feelings with adults and peers, resolve conflicts and, most importantly, prevent suicides. 

 

David Evans

Chief Executive Officer

PROGRAM HIGHLIGHT

School-Based Counseling

 

Mental health issues impact all of us, including the youngest members of our community. 1 in 5 children or youth has a diagnosable mental health need and 50% of all mental illness is diagnosed by the age of 14. Integral Care provides year-round, school-based counseling across 3 Independent School Districts (ISDs) – Del Valle, Manor and Pflugerville. This school year, 29 therapists will support the mental health of approximately 500 students per month on 35 elementary, middle and high school campuses. Also this school year, we will have a therapist at East Austin College Prep. School-based counseling is vital for early intervention and preventative care. 

 

Our licensed therapists provide immediate and ongoing emotional support to students through assessment, therapy and embedded case management services. They also partner with teachers, school staff, administration and parents to improve the health and well-being of our students. Because services are provided directly on campus, school staff can quickly refer students to this easy-to-access program, which helps identify potential mental health issues early and gives students the tools they need work through emotional challenges. Being located on campus reduces the stigma of seeing a counselor and students even bring their friends when they see someone needing help. With this program, parents are able to provide their children access to extra emotional support without having to leave work. This reduces absenteeism from school and negative impacts on the family.

 

Healthy families are the cornerstone of a strong community. Integral Care and our partners at Pflugerville, Manor and Del Valle ISDs are committed to helping Travis County families build their health and well-being so they can thrive and meet their full potential.

Partner Highlight

Manor, Pflugerville and Del Valle Independent School Districts

 

Schools and school districts play a significant role in the lives of children, youth and families. They have an opportunity to positively impact their lives, beyond education. In recent years, Del Valle, Manor and Pflugerville Independent School Districts have significantly strengthened mental health supports in their schools. These districts are not only keeping pace with the rapid growth they are experiencing, they are adding services to ensure their kids are ready to learn in school. Bringing mental health services on campus increases access to care, in areas of Travis County where access can be challenging for parents. In addition, schools are focusing attention on the fact that social determinants of health – healthy food, safe neighborhoods, and access to health care and human services – affect children and youths’ ability to participate in school and reach their full potential.

 

In 2014, the 1115 waiver allowed for 12 therapists in the 3 districts (4 per district). Flash forward only 5 years and districts, recognizing the benefit of school-based therapists, have leveraged their own dollars, along with House Bill 13 funds, to expand the number of therapists. Last school year, all districts worked collaboratively with Integral Care to add more psychiatric services and a triage therapist in Manor and Del Valle. Triage therapists provide crisis prevention and intervention as well as mental health training for school staff. This forward-thinking investment demonstrates their commitment to ensuring their staff have the skills they need to work effectively with all students and create the healthiest school environments.

 

District staff know that to meet their educational goals requires supporting the whole child. Integral Care is proud of the collaborative, trauma-informed approach districts foster between school staff, parents and our mental health providers.

 

Thank you to school district Boards of Trustees, administrators and staff for your efforts to support better mental health. You are helping children, youth and families create stronger foundations that will help them achieve well-being and thrive throughout all stages of life.

Archive

July 2019: Working Together for Child & Youth Mental Health

June 2019: Strengthening Access for Veterans and the Entire Military Family

May 2019: Women and Mental Health

April 2019: Legislative Session Status Report

March 2019: Making Opportunities for Recovery More Accessible

February 2019: Recovery is Possible

January 2019: Stronger Outcomes Through Collaboration

December 2018: Looking ahead to the 86th Texas Legislature

November 2018: How Tech is Changing the Face of Mental Health

October 2018: A Few Questions Could Help Save a Life

September 2018: Anyone Can Save a Life

August 2018: A Milestone Moment

July 2018: Equity in Mental Health Care for All

June 2018: Expanding Services for Veterans

May 2018: Your Mental Health Toolkit

April 2018: Time of Terror Calls for Increased Emotional Support

March 2018: Stopping the cycle of incarceration for individuals with mental illness

February 2018: Equity in mental healthcare for everyone

January 2018 : Improving Mental Health Through Partnership & Collaboration

December 2017: Strength Through Community

November 2017 : Healthy Lifestyles Improve Well-Being

October 2017 : National Child Health Day

September 2017 : Strengthening Families and Communities

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