MEDWAY — Superintendent Armand Pires and Director of Wellness Ryan Sherman are pleased to share that Medway Public Schools was recently awarded a grant by the Greater Milford Community Health Network (CHNA 6) to provide mental health wrap-around services to Medway students.
The $50,400 grant will support the hiring of a Wrap-Around Service Specialist. The specialist will provide wrap-around mental health services that go beyond the traditional outpatient mental health care services and include work a clinician might do with the student, but also with the student’s home and family, school counselor, therapist, pediatrician or other people involved in their life.
Medway Schools in recent years has taken steps to increase access for students and families to traditional mental health outpatient services. The district has partnered with INTERFACE Referral Services, a helpline for school counselors or parents to have a child matched with a mental health care provider, and has brought Family Continuity mental health clinicians into the middle and high school to integrate mental health counseling into the school day. The collaboration with Family Continuity has since expanded to include outpatient mental health counseling at Burke-Memorial Elementary.
However, according to data from Medway’s MetroWest Adolescent Health Survey, less than half of middle and high school students with mental health concerns have spoken with a healthcare provider. The proportion is even lower when considering the number of students who would benefit from wrap-around services. Due to the rapidly growing mental health needs of adolescents, the traditional approach of providing students and families with techniques for supporting their own mental health needs through school-based counseling and traditional outpatient services has become unsustainable.
“Over the last 10 years there has been a rise in childhood mental health concerns seen in Medway as well as across the MetroWest region of Massachusetts and the United States. This includes an increase in reporting feelings of stress, loneliness or depression or exhibiting symptoms associated with generalized anxiety disorder, and we know that this can lead to a range of negative outcomes in the future if not addressed,” Dr. Sherman said. “We recognize that despite our best efforts, the traditional school-based and outpatient service delivery models for supporting adolescent mental health concerns are often falling short of providing the needed services to our students.”
He added, “There are many barriers that can cause adolescents not to seek or receive the care they would benefit from, such as family dynamics, insurance limitations or other social welfare concerns within the home. The wrap-around services we will be able to introduce by means of this grant will help us to begin to address many of these barriers.”
Using the grant, the district will partner with Family Continuity to integrate a Wrap-Around Service Specialist into the schools. Family Continuity will employ the specialist who will provide wrap-around mental health services such as, but not limited to providing clinical interventions for students and families, coordinating referrals to mental health supports outside of their scope of work, coordinating referrals to social and community services, providing community outreach and supporting home visits conducted by the Medway Police Department.
The Wrap-Around Service Specialist will work with Medway students grade K-12 who have a diagnosed mental health concern and/or have an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) or 504 Accommodation Plan that includes an emotional impairment. The specialist will work to connect with students through school administrators, counselors and the school resource officer who already have established relationships with students and their families.
The Wrap-Around Service Specialist will provide and coordinate services based on the MassHealth Children’s Behavioral Health Initiative (CBHI) model of care. This model includes services such as intensive care coordination, in-home therapy, family support and training, therapeutic mentoring services and in-home behavioral health services. Although not typically found within the traditional CBHI approach, the specialist will also help to coordinate ancillary social services that can have a positive impact on a student’s mental well-being, including services like housing assistance, food services or fuel assistance.
Unique to wrap-around services, the specialist will have the flexibility within their schedule to meet with students or families at the location and during the time that works best for them. Additionally, because health insurance is a common barrier to mental health services, the grant funds will also be used to ensure the Wrap-Around Service Specialist will be able to work with students who would otherwise not be able to obtain these services due to health insurance limitations.
“We are honored to have received this grant to expand our district’s ability to offer coordinated wrap-around services to more fully support students’ needs,” Dr. Sherman said. “I would like to thank the Greater Milford Community Health Network for its generosity and Family Continuity for its continued support and partnership. We are confident that these family-centric wrap-around services will be able to reach and assist many of our students who have mental health concerns.”
Mental health wrap-around services are expected to be available to Medway students beginning in September.