Mental Health Clinics Move to Schools

By DeNisco, Alison | District Administration, July 2013 | Go to article overview

Mental Health Clinics Move to Schools


DeNisco, Alison, District Administration


Schools feeling an increasing need to provide student mental health services are partnering with nonprofits to open on-campus clinics as budget cuts have left many districts with fewer psychologists, counselors, and social workers.

In the past 10 years, the number of school-based health centers with mental health professionals on staff has more than doubled, according to the American Psychological Association. While some psychologists, including those from the School Mental Health Project at UCLA, say children are not facing any more stressors now than in the past, society is more aware of the need to address childhood mental illness than ever before.

There are more than 1,800 school-based health centers nationwide, says the National Assembly on School-Based Health Care, most of which are in urban areas. In December, the Affordable Care Act provided $80 million in federal funding for nearly 200 of these programs--the first time federal funds were directed solely to school-based health centers.

In Westchester County, N.Y., an area with great wealth and pockets of poverty just north of New York City, the number of school-based clinics among the 43 school districts has increased to 58. "Over the past decade, our schools have been steadily cutting back on resources like psychologists," says Grant Mitchell, commissioner of the Westchester Department of Mental Health. "As those cuts were being made in districts, we found an increased demand for children's mental health services in the community."

The department worked with local nonprofit mental health organizations to open satellite clinics on the school campuses where support staff had been cut the most. There is no cost to the schools and clinics charge students per service. …

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