LEDGER – A certified mental health professional is coming to Mitchell County Schools.
One certified mental health professional, who has been selected but has not yet been named, will soon be on call to assist at all Mitchell County Schools. The new service is made possible through a partnership between the school system and the Bakersville Community Health Center and Mountain Community Health Partnership.
Mountain Community Health Partnership CEO Chuck Shelton worked closely with Superintendent Chad Calhoun and the Board of Education to make the program a reality.
Calhoun announced the news Thursday, Jan. 9, at the regular meeting of the Board of Education. After Calhoun’s announcement, Board Attorney John Henning recommended the board approve the memorandum of understanding for the program, contingent on final legal review by himself and Calhoun.
“I think it’s advisable and a good idea,” Henning said. “It’s an excellent thing to do.”
The mental health professional will work with students on a deeper level and will be more trained than a school counselor in specific areas of mental health such as suicide prevention.
School counselors will refer students to the mental health professional, as needed, and parents will have to sign a form to allow the professional to provide their services.
The mental health professional is expected to be available starting in February and the rest of the school year will serve as a trial period to see how the program works. If it is successful, it would likely remain a staple for area schools and in the future, could be considered for grant funding, Henning suggested.
Board Chair Brandon Pitman praised the program and said it should help keep troubled students in school.
“We’re so concerned about our young people and this will help catch those who would otherwise fall through the cracks,” Pitman said. “I think it’ll be a great resource for our schools.”