There is a high demand of students in mental health crisis in the Jamestown Public Schools District.
JPS Director of Student Support Services Chad Bongiovanni, presenting to the Jamestown School Board, said 1 in 6 children in the United States ages 6 to 17 experience a mental health condition a year, “About half of those youth with mental health conditions receive treatment in the past year. School-based and school-linked mental health services reduce barriers to needed treatment and add supports, especially for under-served communities. So that is national data here in the United States. What we know is that in high need communities, such as Jamestown, that data is likely far worse.”
Bongiovanni said if the math of 1 in 6 students experiencing a mental health condition was applied to Jamestown, that would be around 800 students a year.
He said the district contracts with community agencies, such as Chautauqua County Mental Hygiene, Family Service of the Chautauqua Region, and The Resource Center to help provide behavioral health services.
Mental Hygiene Program Coordinator Tom Fadale said they have staff at Bush and Washington Schools and serve approximately 90 students a year, “So those clinicians that are at each school can offer a full range of social work services for those students. If they have further needs, they’re linked already to the Chautauqua County Mental Hygiene clinic so they can get further services or they could coordinate with the student’s already existing clinician or PCP.”
Family Service Clinical Director Julie Chipman said Family Service provides counseling services to between 240 and 270 students a year at Jamestown High School, and at Persell, Ring, Love, and Fletcher schools, “We also provide family intervention, crisis support services, and coordinating care with the other providers. And because we do not have a psychiatrist within our service, we also coordinate with the clinics – Chautauqua County Mental Hygiene, The Resource Center, and UPMC Behavioral Health, as well as family doctors to be able to work with them on medications, if they’re needed and when they’re prescribed.”
The Resource Center Director of Behavioral Health Kate Curtis said TRC typically serves between 50 to 75 students a year at the high school.
She said the staff member assigned there took another position and that the new person will be starting in October, “We were awarded a grant through OMH (Office of Mental Health) to open a satellite clinic which we decided to open up at the Tech Academy. We’re hoping by the end of this year we’ll also be able to provide services for social work and out-patient mental health services at the Tech Academy. Right now, we’re accepting referrals, but we’re really kind of looking at starting new.”
Bongiovanni said early intervention is key with providing all student social-emotional learning as well as access to a guidance counselor and psychologist. He said staff needs to be trained in the “look fors,” “One training I just became certified in over the summer was youth mental health first aid. And that’s something we are, that I’m turn-keying with our behavioral support staff. And the biggest take away from that is being able to identify those in need. It’s not about diagnosing. It’s not about actually treating, but it’s helping people to understand those signs, those indicators.”
School Board President Paul Abbott requested the group provide an update on behavioral health in the schools in the Spring.
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