As the outreach counselor for Battle High School in Columbia, Missouri, Dana Harris’s job is connecting students with services when they have mental and emotional troubles such as ADHD, anxiety or depression.
This used to mean hours of calling community organizations and service providers, looking for available appointments, calling in favors, trying to to get students the help they needed. “You could spend a whole day trying to get those services met,” Harris says. Today, she just has to make one call: to a case manager. That’s thanks to an innovative program, MU Bridge Program, that essentially brings comprehensive psychiatric care into the school. It got its start at Battle High in 2014 and now is available to all school-age children in Boone county.
The MU Bridge Program provides case managers who come to the school, meet with the child and their family, and a psychiatrist to perform evaluations. The case manager will also help connect the child to long-term services.
There’s a growing interest in programs that bring mental health care into schools, as schools around the country struggle to tackle the unmet mental health needs of students, says Darcy Gruttadaro, the director of advocacy at the National Association for Mental Illness. She says when kids can “walk down the hall and see a mental health professional” that removes many of the barriers to care.
Read more on STLPublicRadio.org.