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Increasing Students’ Access to Mental Health Therapy

It is back to school for students and our School Linked Mental Health therapists. We asked Nina Murray MSW, LGSW to share about our in-school therapy services for students from early childhood to age 21.   

Why is it important to have Mental Health therapists in schools?

Our program increases access to therapy services by having therapists in schools. We are able to meet students where they are, taking out barriers like needing transportation. There are also no out-of-pocket costs for families. We do not collect co-payments and directly bill insurance. However, if students are uninsured, we are able to provide free services.

What services does the School Linked Mental Health program provide?

Teachers and school counselors refer students. Many student issues present as behavioral difficulties adjusting to life changes, such as family structure or moves; academic struggles or a lack of motivation; and, peer-related issues such as bullying or establishing positive social skills. Our services include diagnostic assessments and treatment plans for mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, trauma, ADHD, PTSD, and Autism.

What motivates you in this work?

I became a therapist because I felt like so much of the work I was doing with clients and students was helping to alleviate the symptoms rather than getting to the root of the actual issue. I did my first-year internship in an elementary school and fell in love with working with students, but I was getting frustrated with how little time I had to dedicate to individual students.

Being a school linked therapist means I have extended individual time with my students and we are able to do deeper trauma work. This type of work helps to resolve a lot of the emotional and behavioral distress that students may be struggling with.

Nina Murray MSW, LGSW

What have family members, teachers and counselors said about the program’s impact? 

A lot of the feedback we get is positive, especially from parents and caregivers noticing that their child seems calmer and more up for talking about their feelings. I have had parents and caregivers tell me that they have seen positive behavioral and emotional changes. So much of what is affecting student’s lives is out of their control. By having someone to talk to and building trust, we can provide ways for them to cope with any family issues and succeed in school.

What schools does the program serve and is there demand to be in more locations? 

We serve students from preschool through transition or GED, so, ages 2-21. The need for School Linked Mental Health to expand to more locations is there – but more funding support is needed. The Family Partnership School Linked Mental Health program currently partners with Brooklyn Center Secondary, Brooklyn Center Early College Academy, Richfield STEM school, Richfield Centennial Elementary, Longfellow Alternative High School in Minneapolis, Hennepin County PICA Headstarts, Anthony Middle School, and Windom Elementary. 

Learn more about our School Linked Mental Health.

Photo by Taylor Wilcox on Unsplash

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