How school based health centers make a difference

Local News

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo.- A new clinic at Central High School is aimed at providing easier access to care for students’ physical and mental health.

A 2018 report from Mesa County Public Health says high schools saw the most Suicide Risks Assessments on students dealing with mental health issues.

There are over 70 school based health centers in Colorado, but the one at Central High School will be the first in Mesa County. The clinic was spearheaded by Dr. Jolene Joseph, one of the directors of Marillac Health. She says school based health centers can make a big difference to students in need.

“They’re designed to meet the needs of those students who may not have access to healthcare or are challenged due to barriers in accessing healthcare,” Joseph said.

The clinic is starting after a $300,000 grant from the Colorado Health Foundation and a partnership between School District 51 and Marillac Health.

The clinic will take any kind of health insurance from a student’s family. But, if a student and their family cannot afford treatment, Marillac Health will absorb the cost.

The clinic at Central High School will have a full-time behavioral health specialist where students can have their mental health needs addressed and treated through regular sessions. Jeff Kuhr, director of Mesa County Public health, says mental health issues among youth in the community stem from a variety of issues.

“Our median household income is quite lower than the state,” Kuhr said. “We’ve got higher out of home placements, higher child abuse. These are all variables that set us up as a community to have health outcomes that are higher in some instances. “

Dr. Joseph says she is inspired to work with School District 51 to get this clinic built due to the high suicide rate in Mesa County compared to the rest of the state. She hopes this clinic makes a positive difference in the future.

“If we can intervene early enough and provide the tools, techniques, and the treatment that’s critical to the success of that individual overcoming that depression or controlling that, then we will see an impact on the rate of suicide in this community.”

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