by: Chrystal Blair, Ozarks First
The Branson School District has expanded it’s reach to help students struggling with mental health issues — through a new partnership.
That partnership is two-fold. One aspect of it allows school officials to point students who need help in the right direction and the other gives school leaders the ability to follow up.
A social worker helping students cope with mental health issues is nothing new to the Branson School District. However, through this new partnership, with Burrell Behavioral Health and a more than 86-thousand-dollar grant from the Skaggs Foundation, it will now be able to expand the effort.
“Now, what it does is it allows us to have a person who follows through,” said Chip Arnette, Assistant Superintendent for Branson School District.
Arnette says now they can make sure troubled students are getting the help they need.
“Can make sure that the family counseling is taking place –make sure that the kids are getting to the therapist, or to the services that they are providing and then follow up.”
For those who’ve been on the frontline of this mental health crisis for many years…this new partnership is well received.
“There’s an increase in autism spectrum diagnoses. There’s an increase in A-D-D diagnoses,” said Lisa Furtkamp, Branson school social worker
“There are increased depression and more of the suicidal cutter type situations than we saw 25 years ago, like when I started,” Furtkamp said.
She believes social media plays a big role in the growing problem.
“Whereas before if you were being bullied it was in the hallway and the kids in the hallway saw you being bullied. Now, the entire school district sees it and it’s on Facebook or wherever,” said Furtkamp, “With this new program, we will be able to follow them closely to make sure they actually get to the services and that those are the type of services that they need,” she said.
Both Furtkamp and Arnette tell me that another key in helping the students is of course working with the parents — and they said, most of the parents are on board with the program.