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Schools to offer therapy services

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BY AMELIA HARPER
Staff Writer

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Students in Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools will have school-based support for their mental and emotional health needs this year thanks to a new contract recently approved by Trillium Health Care Resources.

Trillium Health Resources, the specialty care manager charged with providing services to people with substance use, mental illness and intellectual/developmental disabilities in Nash County, has approved a new contract with Yotaron Enrichment and Resource Center to provide these services. Yotaron now has offices in Greenville and Tarboro but also will locate in local schools to provide access to mental health care.

“Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools are excited about the opportunity to have additional resources to help address the mental health needs in some of our most fragile schools,” said Christy Grant, director of the program for exceptional children in the school district. “This collaborative effort with Yotaron will be an additional resource to the collaborative work that we are already doing with other agencies to address mental health needs in our schools.”

The school district already offers a day treatment program through Progressive Care Services to help address the needs of students who benefit from more intensive or long-term therapies. However, the new contract will allow staff to intervene before a higher level of care is needed or before that referral takes place.

“This initiative will give teachers and staff the ability to identify the needs more quickly, and we can provide services more immediately,” said Patrice Bryant, CEO of Yotoran Enrichment and Resource Center and a licensed counselor in her own right. “This type of intervention is evidence-based and can help prevent situations that lead to violence, suicide and school shooting scenarios.”

As part of the service, Yotaron also will offer training to teachers, though it is up to the school district to determine when or if this training will be implemented. 

“We offer child-adult relationship enhancement training that teaches how to interact appropriately with students with behavioral issues,” Bryant said. “This will give teachers some tools to use to help them in dealing with students. We also instruct teachers on ways to look for early signs of mental illness of substance abuse.”

Once a potential problem is identified, Yotaran therapists will offer individual, group or family therapy sessions at various schools throughout the district. Students who need more intensive therapies will be referred to other providers.

Bryant said these interventions not only improve mental well-being and classroom behavior but help improve academic achievement in students as well.

“Having a way to discuss the issues that are affecting them allows students to focus better and develop strategies to help them improve,” Bryant said

The school locations where the services will be available have not yet been determined by the school district.

“We are in the process of developing an implementation plan that will determine when the services will start and how they will be executed in our school system,” Grant said.

Christy Edwards, senior director of Trillium Connections, a part of Trillium Health Care Resources, said providing these therapies at schools makes sense.

“If students are treated at a place where they already are, it decreases the barriers to access, such as transportation or scheduling issues. It also provides them with a safe place to seek help and reduces the stigma because many students at school are already receiving various support services. The fact they are receiving help for these issues is not obvious.”

Edwards said the school district does not have to pay for any of the services. Most are billed through insurance, Medicaid or are paid for by state funds set aside for the purpose.

“We have been providing school-based therapy services for a number of years through the 26 counties we serve, but this is the first time this has been offered in Nash County,” Edwards said. “By doing this, Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools is demonstrating that they are committed to caring for the whole student, not just meeting educational needs.”

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