Woodland Hills High School in Forest Hills, Pennsylvania is taking steps to enhance mental health support for its students. The school has partnered with Carlow University to provide counseling services to the district. Graduate students from Carlow University will be playing a pivotal role in this initiative, which is being funded through a $4.9 million grant.
Inside Woodland Hills High School, rooms designed for healing and relaxation are making a significant impact. Students like Olivia Davidson, a 10th-grader, have found solace in these spaces. However, recognizing the need for additional support beyond self-healing, the school district has partnered with Carlow University to address mental health challenges more comprehensively.
Graduate Students Will Provide Support to Students, Staff, and Families
Starting next week, five graduate students and two professors from Carlow University will be stationed at Dickson Middle School and the high school. Acting as counselors on a referral basis, these graduate students will provide support to students, staff, and families.
“I think this is going to be critical in helping a larger population of our students. We often see the same students frequently, so it will be easy for us to judge which students to refer, and having them have that consistent service could alleviate the constant need to miss class to see the social worker or counselor,” remarked Kellie Irwin, one of the district’s school social workers.
The program, built from the ground up, aims to break the stigma surrounding mental health and make counseling services more accessible, especially for lower-income communities. Students like Aubrey Moon, a 10th-grader, acknowledge the existing stigma and hope that the program will encourage more open conversations about mental health.
“I think there is such a big stigma around mental health; there are a lot of people our age that don’t want to talk about it,” Moon said.
Referrals for counseling services are already coming in, showcasing the immediate need for such support in the district. The program plans to expand into every school in the Woodland Hills School District, fostering both group and one-on-one counseling sessions tailored to the unique needs of the students.
University Graduate Students Step into Their Roles as Counselors
Dr. Pamela White, the Woodland Hills Assistant Superintendent, emphasized the importance of breaking down barriers in mental health support, especially in lower-income communities. The grant, spanning five years, sets the ambitious goal of establishing a clinic in each district building by next year. Notably, the program operates independently of insurance, alleviating financial barriers for participating families.
As Carlow University graduate students step into their roles as counselors, the collaboration with Woodland Hills School District signifies a significant stride in promoting mental health awareness and accessibility in the educational setting. The partnership reflects a commitment to holistic student well-being, fostering an environment where seeking mental health support is normalized and accessible to all.