For All Seasons School- Based Mental Health Services Impact Families on the Mid Shore

For All Seasons offers School-Based Mental Health Services in Caroline, Kent and Dorchester counties. These convenient onsite therapeutic services are offered in the schools with access to office-based psychiatrists.  Services include group sessions to help with social skills and peer interactions, dealing with family issues, and providing grief counseling. Other services include family therapy services, attendance at IEP, 504, and SST meetings, crisis intervention, referrals for additional therapy, continuation services for the summer, as well as a team approach to providing services to the child, involving therapists, teachers and administrators.

In Kent County, the services address all ages in both public and private schools. In Dorchester County, For All Seasons provides services in Maple Elementary School, Cambridge-South Dorchester High School and South Dorchester PreK through 8th grade. In Caroline County, the services have particularly grown this past year, reaching more students than they ever have in Federalsburg Elementary School, Colonel Richardson Middle School, Preston Elementary School, and Ridgely Elementary School.

Susan Truitt, LCSW-C, For All Seasons School-Based Mental Health Supervisor, comments, “Guidance counselors, administration, and teachers are doing a good job of identifying student needs. More students are getting services who wouldn’t have in the past due to insurance issues. Our funding sources help support uninsured or underinsured students. In addition, parents are recognizing the benefits of services and are asking for help for themselves.”

For All Seasons staff intervene in crisis situations to de-escalate behavioral outbursts and also work with parents to manage situation that arise at home. Referrals to For All Seasons come from guidance counselors, administrators, and teachers. Once referred, For All Seasons, staff will call to schedule an initial intake appointment with the family to begin services. Truitt adds, “Appointments are held during the school day, which is more convenient.  This means parents and children do not have to miss school and work to attend the appointments.”

Coleen Lynn, LGSW, School-Based Therapist at Federalsburg Elementary School, has been drawing parents into the services and parents are becoming more invested and involved with their children. She comments, “Families benefit from the therapy. Parents associate us with the school, but we don’t work for the schools. We are a support for the children and serve as a liaison – a part of the team providing a link between the school and the parents. Teachers give us updates on a child’s progress and the administration is supportive of our role here.”

Truitt adds that the mental health services can also influence a child’s academic performance. She adds, “Sometimes it’s just getting students back on track and grounding them so they don’t lose educational time.”

For All Seasons also provides summer groups in the schools so that therapists can continue their work with students after the school year ends. Partners with For All Seasons in the summer include Channel Marker, Talbot Humane, Choptank Community Health, and Caroline County Parks and Recreation after-school and summer programs.

Derek Simmons, Director of Student Services with Caroline County Public Schools, comments, “For All Seasons thinks out-of-the box and has been an excellent partner in providing school-based mental health services in our county. Caroline County has an access issue to these services because of the location of its towns. The after-school and summer mental health services are an example of this great partnering.”

Another example of For All Seasons ability to address current needs, were the discussion groups they held during the past school year around the Netflix “13 Reasons Why”series. These groups enabled middle school students to be engaged in dialogue and communication around the issues of depression and suicide.

Simmons adds, “Nothing seems out of the ordinary to ask and they always see a way to make things happen. For All Seasons has opened our eyes to what we can have for a school-based mental health provider.”

Other school-based offerings that For All Seasons has provided have included a 5th grade girls group, which provides a supportive environment as girls as they enter middle school. The group allows girls to connect with one another and share common family situations. According to Lynn, these girls have really created a bond with one another.

For All Seasons also implemented a transition program where 6th graders mentor 5th graders as they are transitioning into middle school. This transition is important to students because of what students now experience in middle school. Truitt add, “With all that is going on in the world, we can empower students to know when they need help and when their friends need help dealing with something.

Lynn points to particular growth in For All Seasons services with the Haitian community in Federalsburg. She states, “Culturally, this population was initially resistant to services. These residents have now grown to trust us in our services.” She adds, “What’s rewarding to me is seeing students recognize their own needs, as well as knowing For All Seasons is here to help them.”

(Seated L-R: Ashley Arbogast, Coleen Lynn, Susan Truitt, Elizabeth Chatham, & Michelle Priddy

Standing L-R: Jane Feigleson, Jane Gordon, Courtney Montgomery, & Christina Morris)

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