In-school health clinics in two Paducah-area high schools provide both physical and mental health care for students

Paducah Tilghman and McCracken County high schools now have in-house health clinics that provide both behavioral and physical care for their students, and it’s a “natural fit,” Genevieve Postlethwait reports for The Paducah Sun.

Services for the in-house clinics are provided by Baptist Health Paducah and Four Rivers Behavioral Health.

“I’m really surprised nobody did it before now, because it makes so much sense,” Stephanie Sandberg, a Four Rivers counselor stationed at Tilghman, told the Sun. ” It’s been cool to get a multidisciplinary approach and be able to hook these kids up with services that they may not get otherwise.”

Previously, Four Rivers provided a traveling counselor to the high schools, but now there is a counselor stationed at each of the high schools everyday.

“I’ve always been of the opinion, if we knew what some of these kids go through between 3 o’clock in the afternoon and when they come back to school the next morning, we probably wouldn’t wonder why they didn’t study for that history test,” Janice Schofield, one of the two Four Rivers counselors stationed at McCracken, told the Sun.

“If somebody is having significant emotional problems, they can’t concentrate in school. They can’t focus. They can’t study. I think the need has been there for a long time, and slowly schools are getting on board with it. I’ve been very welcomed out here.”

Most of the behavioral health cases in both high schools come by way of referral, either through the Baptist Health Clinic at Tilghman or through the school counselors or principal at McCracken, and are free if they are made through referral, Postlethwait reports. Sandberg has a caseload of 16 students she sees regularly, and Schofield has 20 and both see a handful of “emergency” cases each week.

Sandberg and Schofield told the Sun that they’ve seen kids facing a wide spectrum of behavioral and mental health issues, mostly depression and anxiety, but also substance abuse, suicidal thoughts and “even psychosis.”

Postlethwait writes, “The addition of the mental health component to the school clinics signifies more than just an expansion of services, it suggests a change in culture. Slowly but surely, Sandberg said she’s feeling the shift.” (This story is behind the Sun’s paywall.)

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