Addressing Mental Health in our Community

Addressing Mental Health in our Community
Teen in blue
Saturday, November 17, 2018 - 1:15pm

The need for timely, responsive mental health services in school communities is growing. According to the National Alliance for Mental Health, as many as 20 percent of youth under the age of 18 will experience a mental health condition, yet only half will receive mental health services. That number is much lower for Hispanic, African-American, and Asian-American students. Addressing mental health in schools can reduce the drop-out rate, lower the risk of suicide, reduce risky behavior, improve help-seeking, and improve academic achievement. 
With a great deal of persistence, effort, and passion on behalf of Disability and Psychoeducational Studies Assistant Professor Lia Falco and members of our school counseling program, we have received final approval from Tucson Unified School District to create a new program as part of TUSD's Family Resource Centers. Getting to this point has been a multi-year effort.
The new program (yet to be named) will establish counseling practicum and internship placements through the TUSD FRCs. As part of their fieldwork experience requirements, our counseling master's students will have the opportunity to be placed in the one of the four TUSD FRCs for their practicum or internship. TUSD students and families will then have the opportunity to receive mental health counseling services, from our counseling students, under supervision and free of charge.
Housing our new program in the FRCs will expand access to potentially thousands of students and families who might otherwise experience significant barriers to mental health services -- barriers that include cost, transportation, language, child care, and timely referral. While the partnership will create a quality, sustainable training model for our counseling students, it also will enhance our engagement in the community by providing a valuable and necessary service to some of the most underserved students in Tucson.