Project AWARE collaboration brings new mental health opportunities for students

Local News

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WLAX/WEUX) – One school district is working to make mental health services more convenient for students. First News at Nine’s David LaClair shares how the partnership with health professionals will make a big difference for kids in need.

Students across the School District Of La Crosse will soon have new options available for mental health services.

Curt Teff, School District Of La Crosse Community Services Director said, “The partnership is one part of a larger strategy we’re working on with project aware to really support stronger mental health, prevention and services for students in our school district.”

With grant funding of about $200,000, the district is partnering with Gundersen Health System to hire professionals to be on hand when needed.

“We have about 45 different community mental health providers who come into our schools currently to serve students. A lot of students receiving that support have insurance or have resources to be able to pay for that,” said Teff.

However, for those who may be struggling, the district is looking to fill that gap.

“The program design is to have one provider dedicated to elementary schools, and one provider dedicated to our middle and high schools,” said Teff.

One key concept the district and Gundersen hope to bring with the partnership is the importance of convenience to kids.

Josh Court, Gundersen Behavioral Health Services Administrative Director said, “They’ll be able to meet individually with kids and families for care to provide typical mental health services you’d find in an outpatient clinic. We’ll also have these therapists doing things at a larger, broader level within the school. We can see staff training, seminars or webinars talking about things like healthy sleep or discipline or screen time.”

Teff said, “We think there’s a lot that can be gained by providing psychoeducation support to students about mental wellness, taking care of yourselves, and healthy parenting practices.”

“All of this, I think, is going to pay off in dividends for the school district, for the staff, and for our community,” said Court.

Two therapists will have offices in one of the middle school buildings and have set office hours at each of the schools for needed services.

In La Crosse, David LaClair, First News at Nine.

The school district of La Crosse and Gundersen look to have applicants for the two positions filled before the end of the current school year.

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