As an ongoing mental health practitioner shortage continues, area schools are stepping in to help make mental healthcare more accessible for students and their families.
Local therapists say students in school now are struggling with anxiety and depression like never before.
“These issues are impacting kids lives and the research is getting more evident,” said Candace Wendelick, a psychotherapist with Clinical Psychology Associates.
“It may be over three years before they get treated, if they get treated at all,” said Kathy Young, Director of Student Services for the Menomonee Falls School District.
“As a school administrator, a mother, a grandmother when you hear that so many children go without treatment, how does that make you feel?” asked Elise Preston with TODAY'S TMJ4.
“It makes me feel worried and disheartened,” replied Young.
Those worries turned to action for the district. At the start of the school year, Menomonee Falls partnered with Clinical Psychology Associates.
“We provide space for a clinic that is typically off-site,” said Young.
The clinic is staffed by licensed psychotherapists like Candace Wendelick. She can counsel students with issues that are too much for school counselors to handle on a daily basis.
Families are getting this help, without having to leave campus.
“They are able to access these services in a much easier way. We say ‘what's a good time in your school day where you can come in and we do a therapy session?” said Wendelick.
Wendelick believes that access is changing lives.
“There's kids I’ve been able to see here who I’ve thought, I don't think they would have ever made it to our office,” said Wendelick.
“We are really looking at the whole child. The academics are what we are here for, but we have to address the needs of that whole child in order for them to learn,” said Young.
The district says the efforts were so successful for high school students; it expanded the services in February for middle school students.