Columbia Health Services is expanding its Student Based Health Center (SBHC) program to include the Clatskanie School District.
According to Columbia Health Services (CHS) director Sherrie Ford, the school district has allocated some of its funds to the center in an effort to increase the reach of services.
“The school district has asked us to provide more mental health services than in the past. But we haven’t demanded a report from them explaining why they think it’s necessary, ”said Ford.
CHS is a nonprofit in the public health sector and operates SBHCs at various schools in Columbia County, according to its website.
Ford said clinics have been in Columbia County schools since 2009 and that the CHS has previously partnered with Columbia County Mental Health (CCMH) and Columbia Pacific Coordinated Care Organization to discuss ways to provide resources. affordable mental health programs for students.
The center specializes in psychiatric care for common and rare mental health disorders seen in adolescents and youth.
“We have licensed mental health professionals who work in school health centers to provide care within their scope, which can mean depression and anxiety, relationship issues, maybe thoughts of suicide or harming yourself. Stressors, whether common or not, pose problems in nutrition-related behaviors such as eating disorders, ”she said. “And then there are behavioral things as well. If a teacher or school counselor notices any behavioral issues or concerns, they can engage with the family and recommend the school health center mental health provider.
Data from the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) shows that statewide, SBHC use increased 24% from 2014-15 to 2017-18, with nearly one in five children identifying the SBHC as its main health resource in 2018.
Oregon law says teens 14 and older can receive mental health treatment without parental consent, Ford said.
“School health centers are really meant to be a place where patients can invite a clinician into their team of people who can help them. We are really focused on student goals, partnering with our best medical practices, in accordance with all vendor licenses, ”she said. “What we want to communicate to families is that we are there for you. If you are not sure if our services are right for you, we just encourage people to call and ask how we can support your family.
Amber Bathon, a licensed vocational counselor, provides services through SBHC to children in the Clatskanie School District.
She said people are reluctant to seek help with their mental health, drawing on her 20 years of experience in the mental health field.
“I think we’re so new to the process that we haven’t had a lot of experience with it yet. So we’re just getting started and getting started, ”Bathon said. “But I can say from my experience as a mental health therapist that this is absolutely true. There is still a stigma around receiving services. And part of getting ourselves into school health centers and school communities is to help break down some of those walls. “
The funding comes from the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) Mental Health Expansion Grant, Ford said, and that funding is intended for school-based health centers to add mental health care that might not. not be funded otherwise. Ford said the grant allows the center to fill in the gaps when patient insurance does not cover the full cost of care, so no family has to pay for out-of-pocket expenses.
The center is located at 471 SW Bel Air Drive on the Clatskanie Middle / High School campus. Mental health services are available to students from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. The center can be reached at 503-728-5181.