Grant to Expand Mental Health Services for Bedford County Public School Students | Local News

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With a $1 million grant, Bedford County Public Schools, in collaboration with Horizon Behavioral Health, will be able to expand on-site mental and behavioral health services and case management for students in the school division.

Coordinating outpatient treatment and helping connect families to the resources and providers they need for their child and/or family unit is Horizon’s role as needed by working with the school system, Beth explained. Robertson, director of Student Support Services at Bedford County Public Schools. .

“Horizon really partners with us for students who need more intensive mental health treatment, more consistent therapeutic care from a clinician,” Robertson said. “There is this team that identifies resources and connects children to school resources, or school interventions and programs, and then when we see that the needs of the students exceed the capacity of the school staff because of the intensity and the frequency, and needs, we have this wonderful opportunity that really serves as the next level of intervention.

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Horizon currently supports mental and behavioral health services at six of Bedford County’s 19 public schools by providing additional therapeutic resources and services tailored to individual student needs when additional support or outpatient therapy is needed in conjunction with care and treatment provided by Bedford County Public School. divisional student support services.

These integrated school resources are increasingly important as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cites an increase in depression and anxiety in children, Horizon said in a news release Monday.

“If you look at national trends, global health trends, we’re seeing an increase in student mental health needs and we’re seeing an age of emergence in younger and younger populations,” Robertson said.

The grant totaling just over $1 million from the Office of Child and Family Services, Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services, will allow Horizon to hire a licensed clinical coordinator and three school staff to manage student appointment scheduling duties, outpatient therapy at least once a week, crisis management, group therapy as needed, consultation with school staff, and contact with family as needed student needs, according to Horizon.

This is the first grant received for mental health services in Bedford County, according to Lesli Sedwick, director of school services and outpatient mental health therapy services at Horizon.

The new positions will be part of the BCPS team that already works with students, Robertson said.

Students who need mental or behavioral health therapies and services receive treatment and resources through the school division. Mental and behavioral health is an integral part of BCPS priorities and the division’s strategic framework, frequently raised at school board meetings as the division strives to meet the needs of students and families.

Robertson’s goal includes working with each student to identify and understand the root causes of behavioral or mental health issues, and addressing unique needs so the student can have optimal success in life. This approach is far more effective and useful than an authoritative notion of behavioral compliance, Robertson added.

While resources at the school can usually provide and meet any services a student might need, sometimes, Robertson said, students need more intensive or frequent treatment sessions, or outpatient services. This is where the collaboration with Horizon comes in.

“We already have support structures in schools to serve the majority of our students and their mental health needs. It’s for students who need something beyond what educational services are designed to meet,” Robertson said.

School-based mental and behavioral health services are important for several reasons, Robertson said. In-school services provide major benefits by helping to break down transportation and scheduling barriers.

When a student requires outpatient services from other providers, including appointments at different locations, Robertson said transportation to those appointments has been a challenge seen in some cases. Additionally, she said, some students in need of outpatient treatment missed school teaching time due to appointment schedules taking time out of the school day.

When you partner with Horizon, assisting with transportation or providing additional therapy services at school facilities allows students to access what they need for optimal success in their respective treatment plans and helps minimize loss of teaching learning time.

“It’s the perfect marriage of those two needs. Students are able to integrate their services very easily into their school day,” Robertson said.

Additionally, collaboration helps connect students and their families to the appropriate outside resources they need, helping to navigate a situation that may be difficult, confusing, or overwhelming.

This school year alone, Horizon provided supplemental therapy services to 104 students at Bedford County’s six middle and high schools, the news release said. Additionally, approximately 40 case management services were provided to BCPS students.

The expansion of care made possible by this grant will have a particular focus on elementary schools in Bedford County, Sedwick said.

Sedwick and Robertson emphasized the importance of early intervention, helping children develop healthy neurological pathways and responses to life situations during formative developmental stages.

“Part of the importance of early intervention is not just to reduce the incidence [a] the student may behave inconsistently at school. It’s really about building these adaptive, healthy neurological pathways for how my body and my brain pick up signals from my environment, and turning that into an adaptive adaptation process, an adaptive analysis of what I have to absorb, think, do. The sooner we build these healthy pathways, clearly the more successful we will be,” Robertson said.

“The sooner we build these healthy pathways, the more success we will have.”

Beth RobertsonBedford County Public Schools Student Support Director

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