We write in Anna, Age Eight about the benefits of having a school-based wellness center with a robust behavioral health care staff. This is because a fourth of the student population (and their parents) have endured (or will endure) three or more adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), which means living in households where adults misuse substances, are threatening or violent, have untreated mental health challenges, are abusive and neglectful, are dissolving marriages or are incarcerated.
How have schools funded school-based health centers or school-based counseling centers? Each model is different. In Santa Fe, for example, we have a high school with a school-based health center and a middle school with a school-based family counseling center (which is also a state-of-the-art training center for future counselors). We can learn from those models that involve a combination of funding streams on the city, county and state levels, along with support from private health care institutions, philanthropy, and the school board ensuring that free space is provided.
The solutions exist and it starts with a question like yours, “How can we bring to this specific school medical, behavioral and dental care? This is followed by a new working committee with representatives from school admin, teaching staff, parent groups, youth advocates and mental health care providers. A vision is created and a plan evolves.
As for a vice-principal and other key staff being funded, this will require the school community working together to create funding. It’s all possible and starts with one champion saying, “I really want to solve this particular problem.”