SHOREWOOD — One in five students walks into school with a mental health concern, according to Children's Wisconsin.
Shorewood students now have access to therapists, and they're one of the only districts offering this resource to all grade levels. Shorewood High School Senior Serafina Ganther is part of REDgen, a group bringing awareness to mental health. They organize events for students to de-stress.
"Just to play board games outside, or play kickball or go to the dance studio and just kind of chill out, and have a break for their day," said Ganther.
Shorewood has been educating faculty and staff about mental health and what to look for so they can better help students. The district is now going deeper by connecting students with therapists during school hours. Superintendent Bryan Davis said this helps students miss less class and not have to wait as long to see a professional.
"We've been exploring the opportunity to have a partnership like this, not knowing who the best partner would be over the last three to four years," said Bryan Davis.
The Wisconsin Department of Health's Youth Risk Behavior Survey found 40 percent of middle and high schoolers in the Shorewood district feel anxious and 20 percent feel sad or hopeless at times. Recent data from a GAIN Screener shows nearly half of Shorewood's eight and ninth-graders are distracted at school, work or home. Davis hopes therapy gives students a way to cope.
"I think it brings a great benefit because we know that a lot of our younger students are experiencing trauma in particular cases and that the earlier that we can get and help students process that trauma and help families help support families in that process the better," said Davis.
The therapists are associated with Children's Wisconsin.
"The demand is everywhere. Children's Wisconsin is in 47 schools across the state right now, and we are we have a lot of partners that are doing this as well and we can't keep up with the demand," said Tracy Oerter.
The program is in its first month at Shorewood.
"Shorewood is really unique in the programming that Children's is partnering with them on, because we're pretty much taking care of the entire district which is the four public schools," said Oerter.
So far, 15 elementary students are working with therapists, one student at the middle school and seven high schoolers.
Ganther isn't surprised students are buying in.
"I think it's really nice to have a therapist where they can really go one-on-one with a student where they have like a very personal relationship with them," said Ganther.