November 15, 2021
Our school-linked therapists not only help students cope with mental health challenges, but they collaborate with school staff, parents and school psychologists to develop plans and strategies to help them thrive at home and in the classroom.
You can help us expand our school-linked programming and give students opportunities to build resilience, confidence, improve their skills and find the additional support they need.
Our therapists, social workers, and mental health professionals operate their own outpatient mental health clinic in the school within a private, safe space. In addition, our therapists provide therapy on-site, making it more accessible for busy families, reducing variables that may prevent individuals from receiving care. Today, our School-Linked Mental Health Services program is one of the few offered in the Twin Cities that embeds therapists in 25 schools in four districts: Robbinsdale, Osseo, Anoka-Hennepin, and Intermediate District 287.
Read our four success stories below and Give to the Max through November 18, 2021, to help us make these opportunities available to more students in the Twin Cities.
Struggling with social anxiety: Helping a 5th grader feel comfortable engaging in class and with peers
For one 5th grader, his social anxiety increased significantly during distance learning throughout the pandemic. Often, he would not turn his camera on and not engage in classes.
When school transitioned to in-person, he started meeting regularly with one of our school-linked therapists, who helped him overcome his social anxiety. Over four months, he came out of his shell, positively engaging with his peers and teachers, participating in class, and even proudly displaying his artwork. One week he even said he “liked” school, and overall, he has reported less social anxiety.
One student was struggling to make friends and develop social skills. He even said that there is no point in making friends because he prefers to be alone. In addition, he always had to be in control, which prevented him from taking responsibility or making compromises when it came to peer conflict.
The student started meeting with our school-linked therapist, who engaged him in dialectical behavioral therapy to help boost his confidence, social skills and explore his values. The therapist also worked with his school team to help him create more positive relationships.
Over time, the student began to see the value of spending time with others. He uses common interests to engage in positive interactions with classmates, which has helped him enjoy participating in group activities like games at recess. To top it off, he received an invitation to a classmate’s birthday party and was overly excited to share this information with his therapist and parents!
Feeling hopeless and ready to quit school: Finding ways to help an 11th grader build confidence and strengthen his support systems
Across his first few years in high school, one 11th grader did not seem to have any friends; he participated in fewer extracurricular activities; and his grades slipped.
While school was always challenging, distance learning during the pandemic became unbearable. As a result, he was completely disengaged, felt hopeless, and wanted to quit school.
He started to meet with one of our school-linked therapists, and over a few months, his mom reported that he seemed happier, more talkative, and helpful around the house. But his social anxiety about virtual classes still made him feel hopeless as he struggled to make academic progress.
Our school-linked therapist advocated for the student to be part of a school program that provided more support and a smaller learning environment. As a result, he was enrolled in the program and built better relationships with his teachers during virtual learning. While virtual classes remained difficult, he was much more comfortable when in-person learning resumed in April and made a complete turnaround by the end of school. He passed all his classes with As and Bs. The student also was much more engaged socially at home and with his peers.
His school-linked therapist says, “He is more positive and able to see his strengths and progress in our sessions together. He has more interests and takes more initiative at home and socially, rather than hoping others will make things happen for him. His mother reports he seems like a different kid because his confidence is much higher compared to when school began in the fall.”
Now, while the student will continue to work with his school-linked therapist to build his confidence, he asked to reduce the frequency of the sessions, which indicated that he both felt better and can now advocate for his needs.
A student who is now a 1st grader had many behavioral struggles in kindergarten and had difficulty with distance learning. She often would refuse to attend her Zoom class sessions and would act out.
By working with our school-linked therapist, the student and her parents, teachers, and school psychologist collaborated to create a behavior plan.
Through this teamwork, the student engaged in fewer negative attention-seeking behaviors, and her teachers reported that she was a “joy to work with” in the classroom.