School district focused on student mental health needs after Hurricane Michael
News Herald - 7/18/2019
Jul. 18--PANAMA CITY -- With mental health being a big concern for students in Bay District Schools after Hurricane Michael, the district wants parents and the public to know it is prepared.
Cheri Wroblewski, coordinator of the mental health initiative for the district, on Wednesday gave an overview of plans and challenges.
"We're really trying to shift our resources to wherever we can get the kids' immediate needs met now. The providers are wonderful. They're doing all they can possibly can," Wroblewski said. "Within our mental health team, we are growing. The mental health allocation budget does allow for us to add a few additional people to our team but with 38 schools across the district, there is no way to put a person in a school every single day. We're a team of four licensed clinicians so that puts very limited face-to-face time in schools directly with kids."
Guidance counselors also are dealing with testing and immediate school needs, Wroblewski said. The district has been busy working on the mental health initiative during the summer. School officials have kept tabs on students, have gotten outside help and plan to go door-to-door for families they haven't been -- or previously weren't -- able to reach.
Money from a School Emergency Response to Violence (SERV) grant should allow for an additional eight social workers, Wroblewski said. The SERV grant was for $1.25 million. The district ultimately is seeking $30 million in funding and is pursuing it from all available sources.
"What we're trying to do is build the capacity in the community and build the team so there's more support for our kids out in the community," Wroblewski said. "We're hoping to see if we're able to do that. We're also going to be able to put some para support for the guidance counselors in the schools with this SERV grant to hopefully free up time so the guidance counselors have more face-to-face time with kids."
District employees also have trained or are training to handle mental health concerns and look for changes in student behavior.
"Ultimately I would love to see a provider in every single one of our schools every single day," Wroblewski said.
(c)2019 The News Herald (Panama City, Fla.)
Visit The News Herald (Panama City, Fla.) at www.newsherald.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.