How one district makes mental health care easier to find

Service that connects community to care is open to students and staff
By: | October 1, 2020

Mental health care is now easier for students and parents to access in a suburban Houston district, particularly for families on Medicaid or who lack insurance.

Channelview ISD has partnered this year with Care Solace, a company that connects families with providers.

Like most communities, Channelview ISD has been contending with a rise in anxiety and depression during the ongoing COVID pandemic, says Karen Bryant, the district’s director of testing and counseling.

“We know kids are very social and in the younger grades, they may not have an outlet if they’re not coming to school face-to-face,” Bryant says. “Older kids have cell phones and video games, and they can stay in touch with each other even if they can’t meet up and go to movies.”

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Depression can manifest in students as anger and other forms of oppositional behavior and, in the past, parents could run into roadblocks when they sought help beyond school counselors.

Also, the communities served by Channelview ISD have limited mental health sources and lack public transportation, Bryant says.

“Not all of our families are skilled at navigating through the maze of insurance information and finding providers,” Bryant says. “Parents would give up after making a few phone calls and not getting service.”

Care Solace, which can connect families to counseling in multiple languages, is also available to Channelview ISD staff.

“There’s still a stigma associated with mental health needs, and staff may not be as willing to come to our counselors to ask for a referral,” Bryant says.

Some teachers have been feeling anxious about having to learn new and adjust their practice for online instruction.

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Channelview ISD is planning to have elementary school students return face-to-face the second week of October.

Still, teachers are also missing out on face-to-face interaction with students, which not only causes stress but makes it more difficult to monitor students’ social-emotional wellbeing, Bryant says.

“Teachers are not able to feel like they’re establishing the same types of relationships as they would be in the face-to-face world,” she says.

DA’s coronavirus page offers complete coverage of the impacts on K-12.