UNION COUNTY, NC (WBTV) – Union County Public Schools Leaders are working with Atrium Health to address the mental and emotional effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and its isolation from students and staff.
Recently, the district unanimously voted to use federal COVID funds to pilot a school-based virtual therapy program. UCPS has a total of about 19 mental health therapists, nine of whom actually work in the district, while the rest are not in partnership with the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.
To accommodate as many students in need of help as possible, the program will focus on virtual mental health therapy.
During this three-month trial period, there will be a school-based virtual therapist available between the hours of 8 am and 4 pm on weekdays in five high schools.
After the trial period, Atrium Health will add another therapist and expand to all 12 high schools. They expect it to provide up to about 1,200 sessions over a 12 -month period.
This new partnership was created because of the growing need for mental health professionals after existing resources began to dwindle.
“These are sensitive topics, such as self -harm, or possible suicidal thoughts. These are different topics in that a teacher or a normal school counselor may not have as much skill. or experience. We need someone who is trained in these areas to be truly an expert, ”said Union County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Andrew Houlihan.
The five high schools that participated at the start of the program were:
- Forest Hills High
- Monroe High
- Parkwood High
- Piedmont High
- High Valley of the Sun
The hope is that these additional therapists will eliminate the waitlist and help take some of the load off. Union County is a province school counselors and social workers.
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