One of the most important actions that schools can take to provide better care to students is to increase access to counseling services. This was one of Medway High School’s major goals when partnering with The Jed Foundation (JED). As a JED High School, Medway was able to improve crisis response resources; create a therapeutic bridge program for social-emotional, mental health, and academic needs; and introduce a variety of staff trainings.
One of the most successful initiatives has been creating agreements with community providers for in-school counseling, which significantly grew the number of students who can receive counseling.
“The collaboration between community and school clinicians has increased efficiencies in referrals, intake, and service delivery, as well as follow-on and transitions back to school,” said Dave Elsner, Counseling Coordinator at Medway. “It has also added to the community-wide discussion about youth mental health needs.”
According to Elsner, this expansion of services has helped with risk reduction, as many students had been previously unable to access mental health services. This, combined with the other newly improved programs, has provided both students and families with comprehensive support. It has also facilitated dialogue among the school’s teachers, administrators, and staff in ways that will allow them to better understand and protect youth mental health.
“The programming and conversations with staff and students have supported the important, expanding, and ongoing dialogue about student well-being, risk awareness, and crisis response and intervention,” said Elsner.