Each year in the United States, one in six children between the ages of 6 and 17 experience a mental health condition.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, about half of those students with a mental health condition received treatment in the past year.
“What we know is that in high-needs communities, such as Jamestown, that data is likely far worse,” Chad Bongiovanni, director of student support services at Jamestown Public Schools, said Tuesday during a presentation before the school board.
“So we have a very high demand of students who are in mental health crisis,” he continued, “and we are in need of some additional support to serve those students.”
Bongiovanni said all students in Jamestown have access to social emotional learning, counselors, psychologists and other support services.
However, he said some students will need additional support. “We want that support to be very targeted and unique to their individual needs,” Bongiovanni said. In-house services for those students, he said, can include individual counseling and small group counseling.
There’s also a third tier, in which intervention is required.
“Students who need very intense services,” Bongiovanni said. “Intense counseling. Intense mental health services. We are able to serve these students in school with intervention such as behavior intervention plans, but what we also know is that we need additional support from our community agencies.”
Officials representing longtime community partners briefly spoke to members of the school board. They included Thomas Fadale of Chautauqua County Department of Mental Hygiene, Julie Chipman of Family Services of the Chautauqua Region and Kait Curtis of The Resource Center.
Fadale said the county Department of Mental Hygiene operates in Bush Elementary School and Washington Middle School and serves about 90 students a year.
“What they do is behavioral health counseling and they’re fully linked to the satellite clinic in the Chautauqua County Mental Hygiene at the city hall,” he said.
He said clinicians at the schools can provide a “full range of social work services for those students. If they have further needs, they’re linked already to the Chautauqua County Mental Hygiene clinic.”
Chipman said Family Services of the Chautauqua Region has been a partner with Jamestown Public Schools for many years. She said counseling services — along with coordination of care, crisis support and intervention, and family intervention and support — are provided to students through referrals from teachers, guidance counseling, principals or parents.
Services are available at the high school as well as Persell, Fletcher, Ring and Love schools. Family Services serves about 240 to 270 students each year.
Curtis said The Resource Center provides support services at the high school. She said the organization received a grant that will allow them to open a satellite office at the district’s Tech Academy to offer outpatient and social work.
Bongiovanni said goals moving forward include increasing awareness of support services available to students; systematize the student referral process; enhance communication with student support teams; strengthen access to wraparound and crisis services; and establish regular multi-agency team meetings.