St. Ansgar Schools are looking to upgrade their mental health services for students K-12 starting this year, coordinating with local agencies and therapists for the upcoming school year.
The move was announced Tuesday during a school staff meeting, where teachers and administrators had the opportunity to meet and hear from some of the therapists that will be offering their services through the school.
“We felt like this was something we needed to provide to our families in our school,” said St. Ansgar councilor Kim Brackey. “We feel really blessed to have these people in our building.”
The services will be provided by St. Ansgar grad Emily Ehlke of Turning Leaf; Lisa Meek, a licensed therapist; and Life Connections.
Each will spend certain days of the week at the school, and will provide a variety of services to address things like anger management, coping, anxiety and depression, among a number of others.
The funding for these new services will come through the state and private donations.
“This all comes at not cost to our district,” Brackey said. “all we have to do is provide a room.”
The cost for Life Connection’s services were covered by the ROCK Foundation, a non-profit founded by L.R. Falk Construction that held their first annual charity golf tournament a week ago.
“We’re going to have a lot of flexible services to provide,” said St. Ansgar councilor Lori Riley. “Nothing will get billed to the family, they just have to fill out a form.”
Last year the school had 13 students utilize mental health services, but the school didn’t have anyone on site to provide them. With the new changes, students won’t have to leave the school grounds or wait for a therapist to come to the school.
“This coming year we’ll have mental health support right here within the building,” Brackey said. “This way [the students] can return to class, only missing a minimal amount of school.”
Mental health has become a bigger concern in recent years, and while school employees said they’ve done their best in the past, these new services will go a long way towards addressing mental health concerns.
“We are not trained as therapists or mental health councilors,” Brackey said. “We cannot diagnose or offer and kind of recommendations to students.”
In-home services will also be available, and St. Ansgar will be one of the first schools in the area providing mental health services to the degree in which they are.
“We all know the children aren’t the root of the cause,” said Rebecca Edwards of Life Connections. “Sometimes the parents need help too.”
School officials said the brochures and some of the mental health staff will be available during parent-teacher conferences for the upcoming year.