Hopkins Schools Prepare to Launch Mental Health Centers

March 26, 2018 06:17 PM

From school threats, to losing a loved one, to the pressures surrounding an online profile. Research suggests teens are more stressed today than ever before.

Those pressures have inspired one Minnesota district to launch a new program aimed at getting students the help they may not even know they need before it gets any worse.

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"Students are suffering more right now, I think, compared to when we were in high school," said Hopkins High School Principal Doug Bullinger. "There's just so much more to being a high school kid."

RELATED: Mental Health Moves to Forefront in Stillwater Schools

The number of kids admitted to children's hospitals for thoughts of suicide or self-harm more than doubled during the last decade, according to the Children's Hospital Association. Hopkins administrators believe addressing student mental health shouldn't only surround headline-grabbing issues like an active shooter or issues with cyberbullying.

They're launching an after school Mental Health Center in the high school and two junior highs, set to be up and running by the fall of 2018.

At the high school, the mental health center will share space with multiple other programs to help students remain anonymous.

"So anyone can walk in and you don't necessarily know why they're walking in," Bullinger said. "It might be for getting some mental health support, it might be to change a schedule, you don't know what it might be."

Said Jennifer St. Clair, executive director of the Hopkins Education Foundation: "Our social workers and counselors are inundated right now with dealing with students, so we're fortunate right now to have staff members who do want to go beyond the school day and work with our students."

Staff will swing schedules to stay after school on Tuesdays and Thursdays in the beginning, with the goal of growing the program into the district's elementary schools eventually, as well.

So whether it's a grief group for the loss of a loved one or a referral to a psychiatrist, the school can meet that student's needs.

"The answer to solving, if you will, what our kids need in terms of mental health is always 'yes,'" Bullinger said.

The Hopkins Education Foundation raised $93,000 at its annual fundraiser to launch this program. After the first two years, the district will take over the operating costs.

Credits

Katherine Johnson

Copyright 2018 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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