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Lackawanna Cty, PA: School connects more and more kids to "outside mental health services"

Jan 24, 2018, Lackawanna County, PA Homepage: School district, LIU-18 hope to bridge mental health gap http://www.pahomepage.com/news/school-district-liu-18-hope-to-bridge-mental-health-gap/937495143 Helping children learn how to read and write can be a rewarding challenge for educators. But, teachers are seeing more of another obstacle in the classroom - student behavior. Here at Riverside East Elementary, there is a Student Assistance Program that connects children to outside mental health services. "The number of referrals we were getting were steadily increasing," said Principal Nicole Vanluvender. Parents were also having a hard time getting their children to and from those programs. The Luzerne Intermediate Unit, which provides support resources to districts, helped Riverside educators bring a community school based mental health team right to the elementary school. Leaders say this new team is full time and provides more stability for children that other services could not always give. … Parent Michelle Paciotti said, "My daughter had a lot of melt downs. She is an ADHD little girl. She has high anxiety. With all the melt downs, she was missing a lot of school." So this program keeps kids in the classroom, while addressing their mental health needs. Right now the program exists at both riverside elementary schools and there is a waiting list to get in it. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 1 in 5 children ages 13 to 18 have or will have a mental illness. "The mental health needs are great. …