School is well underway on the Coastal Bend campus, and in addition to our classrooms and students, we’re seeing an increased focus on mental health resources.
Corpus Christi, TX – School is in full swing for Coastal Bend area schools, and in addition to the classroom and curriculum, we’re seeing an increased focus on mental health resources.
In this, “on your mind”, district officials with Corpus Christi ISD Institute I spoke with 3NEWS about the mental health initiatives the district has implemented for students, their families, and staff.
In addition to counselors on each of its 57 campuses, the district also has 14 mental health professionals and social workers and in recent years has introduced new programs to be there better for students.
In the wake of the Uvalde School tragedy in May, along with continuing challenges amid the global pandemic, feeling safe and healthy at school has remained a top concern for parents everywhere.
Dewayne Couch is the proud father of two teenage boys who attend Veterans Memorial High School. He shared with 3NEWS that he only adopted the two brothers last year, changing their lives and definitely his.
“I changed it completely, for the better of course,” Koch said. “You have a different perspective on things.” “Anything with my kids, playing board games, I don’t think they realize that spending time with them is a stress reliever and one of the opportunities for me to work on my mental health.”
Navigating the new school year, the ongoing pandemic, and the challenges that come with being a teenager in general… they can be many. Koch said he feels it is important for him to score with himself and for his children to do the same. He shared some of the things that worked well for his family.
“Stay engaged in school. Get physically active, get a good night’s rest. All electronics stop at bedtime,” Koch said.
“I might ask them, Did something fun or exciting happen today?” Sometimes it happens, sometimes it doesn’t. Then that lets them narrow down on something that was fun or exciting and that helps keep that open dialogue, and the boy knows he can talk to me at any time.”
It is very important for students to have that safe space at home, but also where they spend the greater part of their days.
For the past two years, “we understand here at CCISD that to be academically successful, our students must have positive, healthy mental health,” said Maria Escas, a mental health specialist at Corpus Christi ISD, who explained. A renewed focus for the region when it comes to mental health initiatives.
In addition to the support provided by counselors on each campus as well as social workers, some of these initiatives include:
- Transition coaches for middle school students who can provide individual therapy, group therapy, and family therapy, are made possible by a grant from the school’s Healthcare Solutions Network.
- TCHATT, which is in its second year in a row with the district, offers on every high school campus. Students are allowed to receive free online therapy with a real therapist. Sessions can occur during the day.
- A self-care button across all the age-appropriate campus pages that parents can also access.
- CCISD Care Corner: A room open to students and their families to select clothing, hygiene products and school supplies at no cost to them.
“A lot of people take it for granted that you can go to the store and buy deodorant, or go to the store and buy shampoo. Or school supplies or even those new shoes for school, and in fact, there are a lot of our families now struggling with the economy,” Iscas explained. . “This is just one obstacle that we can tear down for our students to be successful in a school environment.”
In addition to creating important mental health resources for students, Iyescas shares that it’s also important for teachers to get additional support as well.
According to Iyescas, each CCISD employee and their family can receive up to 5 free treatment sessions. Also last year, the district began the so-called Hearts and Minds retreats for teachers and staff.
“These are free retreats, a half day takes about 4 hours where our teachers come in and we just do the self-care. So we introduced yoga, brought meditation, guided imagery…”
Courtney Rios, the District Guidance and Counseling Coordinator, works closely with Escas and all counselors and social workers to ensure that students and parents always have access to these resources.
“The world of school counseling has certainly evolved to serve more than academic purposes as well,” said Rios.
“There has been an increase in anxiety in young children and depressive systems in young children. We have training sessions with our primary counselors starting at the elementary level so that we can meet some of these needs that may need additional mental health support.”
Rios explained that there is at least one university advisor who is their point of contact for families/parents/students who may need more support. From there, counselors then have the discretion to reach out to the mental health team for social work in the form of a referral in order to obtain this additional support.
The department of mental health can also conduct home visits, said Rios, who also explained.
“We meet with students about individual needs and respond to different crises, different mental health concerns, and substance abuse concerns with the student and family.”
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