Smokey Point Behavioral Health partners with schools for on-site mental health services

ARLINGTON – Smokey Point Behavioral Hospital is partnering with three local high schools to provide free mental health services for students on each campus at least one day a week.

A mental health counselor will provide brief intervention therapy and crisis intervention to students at Arlington and Weston high schools. Hospital officials are starting the same services to the Lakewood School District.

Arlington assistant superintendent Kathy Ehman said the district will provide space and a schedule for the counselor. If the counselor decides that a student needs more services, the student will receive a list of additional providers and options.

Under a community outreach project grant obtained by the hospital, the service will be provided at no cost to the district, students for families.

The extra day will add to the one day a week of mental health services that the Arlington district receives through Catholic Community Services.

Hospital Business Development manager Erika Preston, serving as a community liaison, said, “The increase in mental health issues and suicidality among teens continues to rise, and Smokey Point Behavioral Hospital is committed to being a part of the solution in our community.”

Ehman said the district and hospital officials plan to meet again, walk the high schools, introduce the mental health counselor to school counselors, then provide services shortly after. Services will be provided during the school year, then look to continue next year.

The hospital is looking to fill the other two days a week with other high schools as well, officials said.

The 115-bed psychiatric hospital, which opened last July, supports preventative efforts, provides free assessments and offers in-patient and out-patient mental health and chemical dependency services for all ages.

In other Arlington school board news:

• The Arlington Education Foundation awarded $6,773 in mini-grants to classrooms this spring. Projects awarded included a spectrometer for science uses and Honor Night needs at Arlington High School; programming and coding project at Haller Middle School; Snap + Core symbols-based literacy software and microphones for Pioneer Elementary; non-fiction and manufacturing club projects at Post Middle School; and a Connecting With Character proposal at Presidents Elementary.

• Accepted an $8,000 gift from the AHS Booster Club to buy flags branded with AHS’s core values for the main entrance, and tables for an outdoor seating area in the back of the school. The school already has plans to fence off the back. “Rather than hanging out in front of school, we’ll have a space that is safer and more secure, and allows us to secure the back so the only door that opens into AHS during the school is the front door,” Principal Duane Fish said.

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