Chicago area schools refer 8-10 students a day for mental health services

Mar 9, 2018, Chicago Tribune: In wake of Florida shooting, suburban counselors see increased need for mental health services at schools Standing before hundreds who gathered Friday for a mental health forum, Prospect High School junior Peyton McGovern shared her struggles that she said came with being sexually abused as a child, followed by the anxiety that frequently kept her out of school. But after a brief hospitalization and years of therapy, Peyton, 16, of Arlington Heights , said she now attends classes regularly in Mount Prospect and participates in the speech team. Despite her history of anxiety, she said, she is planning to join her fellow classmates next week during the school walkouts being planned across the country to protest gun violence following the school shooting in Parkland, Fla. … For the many professionals who attended, coming from towns like Arlington Heights, Barrington, Lake Zurich, Libertyville and Mundelein, they increasingly find themselves on the forefront of adolescent mental health issues, which in recent weeks have meant dealing with a spate of violent threats posted by students on social media in the wake of the Florida shooting. "The demand for mental health services at schools has increased dramatically," said Steve Hunter, Amita's director of professional education, pointing to an increase in medical referrals from area schools. The behavioral health hospital's psychologists receive referrals for eight to 10 students a day in need of mental health services from officials at schools across Chicago and the suburbs, Hunter said. In addition to mental health issues, ranging from anxiety, depression and drug addiction, Hunter said, officials are referring an increasing number of teens who are threatening violence to themselves and others. …

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