The Attorney General’s Office announced on May 20th that Lynn Community Health Center is one of 22 organizations to be awarded a grant through the “Access to and Measuring the Benefits of Providing Behavioral Health Services in Massachusetts” grant program targeting underserved populations in the state.
The health center will use the funding to expand behavioral health services through its School Based Health Center (SBHC) program in the Lynn Public Schools.
All three high schools, two middle schools, and three elementary schools already offer on-site primary and behavioral health care to students. A fourth elementary school offers a full range of behavioral health services. This grant would allow for the expansion of behavioral health services to Brickett, Tracey and Ford Elementary Schools, as well as the Early Childhood Center and will be implemented over the next two years.
Lynn Community Health Center has been providing school-based health care since 1991. For school-year 2012-2013, health center clinicians provided 8,806 behavioral health visits for 1,027 children and youth on-site in the Lynn Public Schools.
“Recently we have seen alarming increases in the behavioral, emotional, and mental health care needs of our students and their families,” said Superintendent Catherine Latham. “We are thrilled that this grant will allow us to expand our collaborative work with the Lynn Community Health Center and provide additional behavioral supports to students, supports that will help to ensure that Lynn’s children are healthy and ready to learn.”
“The Lynn Public Schools has been a superb leader in meeting the educational and socio-emotional needs of students and we look forward to the opportunity to continue to partner with them to develop needed new mental health services at these three schools,” said Lori Abrams Berry, health center Executive Director. “We strongly believe that providing mental health services in the school setting is a particularly effective way of serving the behavioral health needs of high risk children and youth and in improving their ability to learn and succeed in school.”
Making comprehensive behavioral health care and social services available to students in the elementary school setting benefits them in many ways:
- Students are healthier, because they receive care they would not get if they had to leave school to access services.
- Students who receive care on-site miss less class time, and are more likely to return to class after a visit.
- Students have a safe place to talk about sensitive issues such as depression, family problems, relationships, and substance abuse.
- Providers can collaborate with teachers, counselors, and school nurses to best address student’s needs.
- Serious mental health problems are identified early when they can most easily be addressed.
“A comprehensive behavioral health program for elementary and pre-school students and their families will help build hope and aspiration in our community while providing critically needed services to our children,” said Dr. Mark Alexakos, health center Chief Behavioral Health Officer. “Helping students and families with behavioral health issues will help children to learn, to succeed in the classroom, and to graduate.”