July 4, 2018, Austin (TX) Community Impact: AISD adds mental health centers at several Northwest Austin schools https://communityimpact.com/austin/northwest-austin/education/2018/07/04/aisd-adds-mental-health-centers-at-several-northwest-austin-schools/ With mental health-related calls to Austin ISD police increasing each year and the workload of school counselors becoming more burdensome, AISD has opened 40 school mental health centers and added about 100 non-district mental health specialists since 2011.
Mental health centers are designated rooms on district campuses where licensed mental health professionals, such as psychiatrists or therapists, meet with students, families and staff to work through mental health barriers that could be affecting the student. … Established in 2011 as a pilot program at Crockett High School, mental health centers had opened at 18 AISD campuses by the start of the 2017-18 school year, according to AISD spokesperson Cristina Nguyen. Using funding from a $4.5 million Victims of Crime Act grant awarded to the district last fall, last February AISD expanded the program to 22 elementary schools that feed into Akins, Lanier and LBJ Early College high schools, said Tracy Spinner, AISD assistant director of comprehensive health services. … “By providing mental health services on campus, we are able to identify, support, and efficiently provide clinical treatment for our students experiencing a variety of mental health issues,” Spinner said. Common mental health issues include clinical anxiety; depression; and stress related to family relationships, schoolwork or trauma, said Elizabeth Minne, director of Austin-based Vida Clinic, which staffs and coordinates 25 of the district’s mental health centers. Austin-based Integral Care, a counseling and mental health service, operates the other centers…. Since expanding the program in February, she said the new mental health centers have served over 1,400 individuals. … School counselors are still the first line of defense in helping identify what may be bothering a student, but Williams said once it is determined a student needs specified attention, he or she could be referred to a center…. Minne said she hopes mental health centers will expand to all AISD schools in the future.