Ohio State to provide mental health services to Upper Arlington students

·3 min read
Upper Arlington Schools
Upper Arlington Schools

Upper Arlington Schools has reached an agreement to have mental health professionals from Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center available to students.

Beginning Feb. 10, two full-time psychotherapists will maintain offices at Upper Arlington High School to provide a range of mental health services to all students in the district, including well-being assessments and referrals, crisis intervention and support services.

Additionally, a full-time well-being coordinator will be at the high school to develop well-being programs for individuals and groups in the district, collect and assess data related to students' mental health and to develop a comprehensive wellness promotion strategy for the district.

"We really feel this will build out a more consistent opportunity to support our students," said Kathleen Jenney, UA Schools associate superintendent of human resources and operations.

According to the contract, the well-being coordinator will have a master’s degree in public health, health education, social work or a related field or equivalent.

The psychotherapists will hold licenses in social work and/or various levels of professional counseling.

The partnership with OSU Wexner unanimously was approved Jan. 11 by the Upper Arlington School Board.

Under the agreement, the district will pay $395,000 for the first year of the contract and $390,000 in the second year.

According to the contract, those costs "represent average mid-range salary and benefits for the clinical and wellbeing staff provided to the district ... as well as typical administrative and programming costs associated with the delivery of services."

Matthew Onorato, director of social work at OSU Wexner's Harding Hospital and Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health, said OSU Wexner provides services to all schools in the Olentangy Local School District and will be serving Metro Early College High School beginning this spring.

"The program seeks to integrate Ohio State-employed psychotherapists into each school’s unique culture to provide a seamless and collaborative experience for students, families, staff and administrators," Onorato said. "The goal was to help address mental health issues beyond the scope of what current resources provide in the school setting."

While the OSU Wexner employees will hold offices at UAHS, Jenney said they would be utilized in each building throughout the district.

"Once the psychotherapists do some initial entry and assessment with students here in Upper Arlington, they will get preferred access into clinical care at Ohio State University Behavioral Health, which is really an important piece," Jenney said. "In addition to that, the psychotherapists have the ability to provide services to bridge with the students until they're able to access additional support through the agency."

Student and staff well-being has been a focus of the district's strategic plan for several years. Superintendent Paul Imhoff has repeatedly stated the district aspires to implement a "multi-tiered systems of support" program.

That program has included the formation of a team of UA Schools educators meeting regularly to look at the progress of each student in the district.

“As Dr. Imhoff says, academics are our main business, but we also know that students who aren’t well can’t learn,” said Andy Hatton, associate director of learning and leadership for the district.

Jenney said the partnership with OSU Wexner will involve working closely with school counselors and staff to try to identify students who need additional support.

"Just the enthusiasm and the access to resources that we'll have through this partnership, I think, will be a huge enhancement to our work in the well-being arena of our district," she said.

nellis@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekNate

This article originally appeared on ThisWeek: Ohio State to provide mental health services to Upper Arlington students

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