News Article Details

Health clinic, mental health professional coming to Carthage High School

Joplin Globe - 8/22/2018

Aug. 21--CARTHAGE, Mo. -- The Carthage School District will move forward with two health initiatives after getting approval from the Board of Education on Monday night.

The first will establish a Mercy clinic at the high school that will be available to district students and staff. The goal is to provide quick and convenient health care access for students and staff, administrators said.

"I believe providing children and staff an opportunity to receive quick and convenient access to qualified health professionals to address their physical and mental needs can only improve student and staff attendance," Superintendent Mark Baker said. "The district continues to look for ways to provide a support system for all of our children to ensure we are inspiring excellence and giving them the opportunities to reach educational success."

The clinic will operate from 7:30 to 11:30 a.m. only when school is in session. All billing will be done through the clinic, which will be staffed by Mercy personnel.

A student must first be seen by a school nurse and be sent home before a parent can choose to take their child to the clinic. Students under the age of 18 must get consent from parents to be treated at the clinic.

The district is aiming for a mid- to late-September opening date.

The district joins Webb City as the second school district in the area to have a school-based Mercy clinic for students and staff. Carthage will review the clinic's usage in the spring to determine the program's success. Webb City has operated its clinic for about three years.

Mental health initiative

The school board also unanimously approved a plan to house a mental health professional from Ozark Center at the high school to offer therapy and support services to district students and staff. Ozark Center is the behavioral health branch of Freeman Health System.

The therapist will have an office in the counselors' area at the high school and start their day at the high school, but they may spend part of the day or week at other locations.

Like the health clinic, having a mental health professional at the high school will allow students and staff to receive therapy and support services more quickly, with the goal of getting students and staff back in the classroom quicker, administrators said. Students can schedule appointments directly with the provider and select a time that has minimal impact on their daily school schedule.

Kandy Frazier, assistant superintendent for instruction and a former guidance counselor, said last month that the district had around 125 reports of self-harm last year. Self-harm incidents are reported when a student either threatens to or does harm to oneself.

In addition, at least two Carthage High School students have died by suicide in the past 12 months.

The mental health service, Baker said, can help reduce the stigma of seeking mental health treatment.

"For many years, discussing mental health issues was taboo and pushed aside as 'only the weak' had mental health issues. Luckily, providing mental health assistance is no longer a forbidden topic," Baker said. "Our job is to do what is best for kids, and I believe this is a fantastic opportunity to offer additional support. If it helps even one child, it is worth it."

Opposition

The school-based health clinic proposal was first presented to the Carthage Board of Education at the June meeting, and it met with opposition from board member Bill Lasley. Lasley voted against the health clinic Monday night.

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(c)2018 The Joplin Globe (Joplin, Mo.)

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