Categorized | Schools

Phoenix Center and Marble Falls ISD expand mental health services on campuses

FROM STAFF REPORTS

Phoenix Center therapist Erin Givarz (left) and Marble Falls Head Start center director Aletha Laterza know the positive effects the center’s programs have on children. Phoenix Center and Marble Falls Independent School District formed a partnership in 2015 to provide mental health services to students and are expanding those services and programs this year. Go to phoenixtx.org for more information. Courtesy photo

Phoenix Center therapist Erin Givarz (left) and Marble Falls Head Start center director Aletha Laterza know the positive effects the center’s programs have on children. Phoenix Center and Marble Falls Independent School District formed a partnership in 2015 to provide mental health services to students and are expanding those services and programs this year. Go to phoenixtx.org for more information. Courtesy photo

Since 2015, when Phoenix Center of Marble Falls and Marble Falls Independent School District forged a partnership, the two have served more than 900 students with mental health services.

Now, the center and MFISD are expanding their partnership through additional services and staffing to meet more mental health needs of school children who have experienced trauma.

Phoenix Center will have two full-time therapists and three part-time therapists at five of the district’s campuses as well as at Head Start facilities. Along with serving students, the center provides trauma-informed training and consultation for teachers, staff, and administrators.

“The partnership is ensuring more children who have experienced trauma receive the critical mental health care needed,” according to Phoenix Center officials.

The initiative between the school district and the center reflects nationwide efforts of schools becoming “trauma-informed.”

“We feel serving the mental health needs of our students is key to fulfilling our vision to ‘love every child and inspire them to achieve their fullest potential,’” MFISD Superintendent Chris Allen said. “The provision of mental health and trauma-informed training help students and teachers come together in pursuit of success for all.”

According to Phoenix Center officials, many decades of research has demonstrated how trauma can negatively alter brain development and a child’s ability to “learn, grow, and connect with others.”

A student who has undergone trauma has a higher chance of developing at-risk behaviors such as drug and alcohol use, teen pregnancy, delinquency, and poor grades.

The National Survey of Children’s Health revealed that nearly half of all children in the United States has experienced one or more types of serious childhood trauma — that’s more than 34 million kids nationwide.

In Burnet County, the number of confirmed child abuse cases is nearly double the state average, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has designated Burnet County as a “mental health professional shortage area.”

The lack of mental health professionals is another barrier for some families in getting the proper services and help. But through the Phoenix Center and MFISD partnership, the center brings services to the campuses and students.

Some of the school-based programs include individual therapy services for students in crisis, groups that promote prevention and early intervention, and trauma-informed care training for teachers, staff, and administrators.

Through trauma-informed training, school officials learn how to address behavioral issues that are caused by trauma.

That training includes how trauma impacts a child’s neurobiology and brain development related to behavioral and academic needs and how to meet those needs in a trauma-informed manner. Districts across the nation that have implemented trauma-informed methods have seen a decrease in suspensions, dropout rates, and increases in academic performance, attendance, and graduation rates.

“The collaborative effort between the Phoenix Center and Marble Falls ISD is delivering mental health care to school children with critical needs, such as victims of child abuse,” according to center officials.

Go to phoenixtx.org or email sarah@phoenix.org to learn more or to support these efforts.

editor@thepicayune.com

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