Olathe schools ramping up mental health services

Published: Aug. 11, 2022 at 7:50 AM CDT
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OLATHE, Ks. (KCTV) - Students in the Olathe School District will have increased access to mental health services this year.

The district is centralizing its mental health services and using community support to bring in more resources.

“We’re really excited to be able to meet our student need and make sure that families are getting the help that they need for their students in the school setting, where students tend to be really comfortable,” Angie Salava, the district’s director of social emotional learning and mental health services, said.

Last year, the district had 10 mental health professionals stationed at different schools – but with more than 50 buildings in the district, that model needed changing.

This year, five district employees will be sent out wherever the need is upon school request.

Plus, a new grant secured 25 community-based therapists that will partner with the district and provide care when needed.

This could range from emergency situations to ongoing therapeutic services.

“Our outside providers will provide that one-on-one, individualized therapy,” Salava said. “Our school-based providers will be doing lots and lots of groups from depression groups, anxiety groups, anger management groups. We have transition groups for students who will be going into kindergarten, sixth grade or ninth grade to help them ease into the school setting.”

Parents can choose to sign their kids for services, and all services require parental consent.

Community-based providers will bill the family, “unless the family is unable to pay,” Salava explained. Those families will have their services covered by the Braden Robertson Student Mental Health Fund. (Mental Health and Wellness | Olathe Public Schools Foundation)

“We leave that up to the private providers, but our private providers also know that if a family even hesitates, they’re to go ahead and scholarship them,” Salava said.

Salava says March’s shooting at Olathe East led the district to review its protocols and ramp up its mental health support.

“We knew that we were having growing student need, it’s something that we were talking about beforehand, but that did help push us a little bit more to make sure that we were meeting the need and that we were able to provide the kind of services our students deserve,’ Angie Salava said.