Accessing In-School Counseling Supports for Students

In-school counselingOne of the exciting changes in children’ s mental health is that school-based counseling is becoming more accessible. Early in my professional career, I partnered with the St. Paul Public Schools to provide school-based mental health therapy while working as a therapist in a community outpatient clinic. What started out as a pilot program in the Twin Cities metro is now established throughout Minnesota, increasing access to school-based care within greater Minnesota.

School-Linked Mental Health Services is a wonderful resource that provides mental health services directly on-site at the school whereas outpatient mental health services are an excellent choice for in-office care and telehealth. With the widespread use of telehealth, outpatient (in-office) therapists such as those at CARECounseling can come to your child’s home or school site via the computer! This is a great alternative when seeking therapeutic support in school, or at the beginning or end of the school day.

I’d like to share more information on the similarities and differences between school-based, office-based, and telehealth mental health services that can help with deciding which one works best for you and your family.

School-Linked Mental Health Services

  • Services are grant-funded and help provide access to families who are uninsured or underinsured. This can be ideal for families who do not have insurance or have barriers accessing counseling due to insurance coverage.
  • Schools help identify students who are struggling with mental health or substance abuse to access therapy for the first time. Staff at school are often the first to notice patterns in behavior that may not be otherwise noticed at home.
  • Services are provided on-site at school to help improve functioning including improving academic success and reducing time spent out of class. Interventions can support struggles in real-time.
  • Therapists based in schools often have more access to school staff for consultation, care coordination, observation, and assistance with support within the classroom.

Outpatient Mental Health Services

  • Services are billed through insurance and out-of-pocket options are available. CARE Counseling is in-network with all major insurances, including Medicaid/ MA.
  • Outpatient services may offer a lot more variety in terms of availability of providers and specialized therapy options. Teens and parent(s)/ guardian(s) often seek out mental health support by seeing a mental health specialist and/or talking to their doctor and getting a referral to a mental health provider.
  • Many children and teens like the confidentiality of a clinic provider and the ability to select from a wide variety of therapists as this can help empower them in treatment. This can help establish longer-term care if needed.
  • Services can be provided during the school day via telehealth and in-person at a clinic location. While therapists can help coordinate care within the school, their roles are focused on providing mental health counseling.

If you want to learn more about in-school counseling support, talking to the school social worker or counselor is a good place to start. Your child’s teacher is also a great resource as well as school administration and behavioral specialists. They can also assist with community resources such as referrals to outpatient mental health clinics, or additional resources based on your student’s mental health and learning needs. If you want to learn more about in-office and teletherapy through CARE or are interested in referral options, please give us a call.

Written By: Charlotte Johnson, MA, LPCC


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