[HUNTSVILLE, AL] Amid the transitions that COVID-19 has caused, WellStone continues providing School-Based Therapy (SBT) through the Madison County and Huntsville City school system partnerships. The program is serving new and existing clients in person and through Teletherapy, a method of counseling where communication is entirely through phone and video. Since the school systems’ closings, the program has served 1200+ clients.
When precautions were becoming enforced, current clients and families were notified by mail of the various options explaining how to maintain continuity of care. After initial contact was made, appointments were scheduled to conduct therapy session either in office or through Telehealth services. “In this time of uncertainty, having a sense of normalcy can provide emotional stability,” School-based Manager Brittany Scott says. “It is crucial for clients to continue receiving therapy at this time to allow them to express their thoughts and concerns centered around what is currently going on in the world. Having this resource available to [children and adolescents] is key to help normalize their feelings of anxiety, depression, anger, confusion, frustration and more.” She continues, “This is a major adjustment for everyone, not only children and just like anyone else, they need to process what’s going on.” From March 16 to April 17, the program has provided over 1,000 service hours and 2,000+ services, including individual sessions, family sessions, psychoeducation and assessments. “For many children, SBT is a matter of life and death,” states Savannah Parker, School Counselor at New Market School.
This opportunity would not be possible without the diligent collaboration of Madison County and Huntsville City schools.
Professional School Counselor Becky Wilkenson at Harvest Elementary adds, “This has undoubtedly been a historically trying time for everyone, and no one planned on the continuum of emotions that would accompany this pandemic.” Wilkenson continues, “Adults, let alone children did not have the tools in their toolbox to deal with sudden isolation and confusion this has brought on. Nova has offered [methods to manage isolation and confusion] throughout the year and I am so grateful they provide such stability for so many of our students.”
More Huntsville City and Madison County Schools staff shared their thoughts during this time:
• “Students that already have behavior problems or difficulty coping at school are struggling right now with their routines changing and the structure they were accustomed to is disturbed; they need help adjusting to the new normal while at home with parents and siblings.” -Julie Hoover, M. Ed., Professional School Counselor, Madison Cross Roads.
• “[We are] grateful to partner with WellStone to continue providing therapy services to students even while schools are closed. HCS thanks WellStone for their collaboration and continuation in serving the mental health needs of students in our community.”- Leigh Ann Brown, Counseling Services Coordinator, Huntsville City Schools
Concerning advice for parents, Scott shares, “Please be patient with yourselves and your children during this time, we know that you are also dealing with new stressors. Be mindful that children feed off your energy and will be able to cope better if you are able to model appropriate and healthy coping skills. Be aware that resources are available for your child and yourself.” Throughout this adapting process, confidentiality remains to be a top priority while providing services to WellStone clients.
If a child needs school-based or regular counseling services, individuals can reach out to their school administration and request Nova services or can contact the Nova Center directly at 256-705- 6493. For adult inquiries, please call 256-533-1970 to receive more information on how to secure an appointment.
About Wellstone Inc.: WellStone Inc. is a non-profit community organization that provides mental health and substance abuse services supporting the integrated health of the whole person. WellStone operates 12 facilities throughout North Alabama and Cullman. WellStone is certified through the Alabama Department of Mental Health. WellStone offers programs for children, adolescents, adults, substance abuse, school-based outreach, community services and more. For more information, visit www.wellstone.com. Additional media inquiries can be directed to the Communications Office by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (256) 705-6301.