The Lebanon Community School Corporation has partnered with Integrated Wellness (In Well) to provide additional services focused on the overall health of students.
Jenn Todderud, director of Lebanon School Communications, said, “This is very exciting for our school corporation. While In Well has been working with us for several years, they will now have a full-time presence within each school. We will have six full-time therapists and three full-time skill coaches.”
The goal is to help students who are at risk to receive needed mental healthcare assistance.
“Until a student’s basic needs are met, they can’t learn," Todderud said. "This partnership will assist in meeting the basic needs of our students and hopefully create whole health. We have always strived to support our kids with more than education. We are committed to their complete development.”
The partnership aims to help students by providing easy access to mental healthcare.
“This is a collaborative effort within our schools," Todderud said. "We want all of our staff to be attentive to the kids and if anyone notices signs or something uncharacteristic, they have the resources available to help the child. This means if a bus driver or music teacher or cafeteria worker notices a student having a bad day, they can speak with the In Well therapist who will check on the child. This is another way in which we support one another. We keep the conversation ongoing and provide our students with needed care.”
School corporations throughout the state are beginning to have such discussions and plan for the mental health of students. In September 2018, the Indiana Department of Education received a $9 million grant to address the mental and emotional health needs of students within Indiana schools.
While LCSC was not awarded monies from that grant, Todderud said the corporation is committed to the cause.
“We are a leader in addressing the mental health issues of our student base," she said. "We want to continue to lead in areas related to the health of our students. Partnerships like this one with In Well, as well as others within our community, are key to building better students, which builds better schools. We have always been focused on the whole health of our students. This is another way we are showing that commitment.”
One program LCSC has successfully managed for years is a group skills class.
“The group skills class is a safe space for students to practice newly acquired skills like empathy," Todderud said. "It is also a space in which students can process things like grief. This is a very hard time to be a kid. Kids today have more stress to manage than generations before them. We want our students to have tools and people, so they are able to thrive even when life is difficult.”
Having In Well onsite will also help to alleviate obstacles that often prohibit mental healthcare, she said.
“We believe this program will help parents in many ways," Todderud said. "If a child needs counseling or group training, we can assist during school hours at the child’s school. This means parents do not need to take time off work to take the child to an appointment. We are also able to connect parents with the health providers who work with their child and help with family health.”
Lynette Clark, director and managing member of Integrated Wellness, added, “This is an important collaboration and one we believe can be very successful. The holistic approach to helping children allows all the areas of a child’s life to work together and create a lasting impact.
"This would include families, primary care physicians, school faculty and mental health care. It is important to note that primary health and mental health go hand in hand.”
Clark said she believes having an allocated resource in each school will be beneficial for urgent care as well as to build relationships.
“A dedicated person being in each school means we are onsite in the instance of an emergency," she said. "We are more accessible to the student, we can have quicker response time and we have a continual presence. These are important factors to creating impact and successful outcomes.”
LCSC has trained staff to be aware of signs a child may need help. Any staff member can let the school lead, a person designated within each building, know the situation. The school lead will then make the referral to In Well. Services provided will be determined on a case by case basis.
“Once we receive the referral, we will begin intake evaluation to determine what, if anything, is needed," Clark explained. "We will assess for treatment options, skill training and, if medicine is needed, we can also work with guardians to determine our course of action.”
Guardians have an important role in the process and through their participation can help to create a more positive outcome, Clark said.
“Most parents will want to be involved in counseling, allow us to communicate with teachers and primary care doctors," she added. "When we collaborate, we are consistent across all domains of a child’s life and we create more successful outcomes.”
Individual treatment could include that for trauma, depression, anxiety, ADHD and emotional diagnosis. Family issues can also be addressed.
Guardians are able to attend counseling inside the school or at an In Well office. All treatment plans are customized to meet the needs of the individual.
Payment is also handled on a case by case basis. Traditional insurance can be used and hardship is taken into consideration.
“We are working to create positive, impactful and successful outcomes for our students and community," Clark said. "We believe this is one way we can meet a need now and hopefully become proactive and even preventative in the future.”