School officials believe the sooner they can identify problems students may be facing, the faster they can provide the support the student may need.
Access to mental health services is a need in many communities nationwide.
According to jacksongov.org, 30,000 Jackson County, Missouri residents are impacted by mental health challenges.
Kenny Rodrequez is the superintendent of Grandview Schools. He said, “We know that we have a significant issue that we’re not meeting their needs.”
That’s why the Grandview School District started offering free mental health screenings for elementary students.
Last school year alone, the district received 45 hotline calls. 11 were referred for suicide assessment.
Rodrequez said, “Our goal on this initiative was to start where we believe a lot of the concerns begin.” He added that any 3rd, 4th, or 5th grader can be seen with their parents’ permission. “It doesn’t have to be a huge crisis of an abuse or any kind of a major situation. For some of our kids, it’s just a break-up.”
The district partnered with Cornerstones of Care. They’ll come into the schools and use what they call a universal screening tool.
Denise Cross, CEO of Cornerstones of Care, said, “That tool is just a series of questions, it helps us kind of identify any challenges that a youth might be having or anything that they’re struggling with or they’re just concerned about.”
Cross said the sooner they can identify any problems students may have, the faster kids can get back to just being kids. “It’s about kind of identifying those issues that may be causing a child to struggle or be upset and then how do we help them resolve or work through that.”
130 students will be screened this week. That’s about 10 percent of 3rd through 5th graders in the district.
Rodreques explained, “Our hope is that we will get more and more parents to know, hey it’s okay, it’s not a judgment, it’s not about any of that, it’s really just about providing supports to your kids.”