Ellsworth School will provide mental health services to students

The pilot program aims to expand mental health services for students.

ELLSWORTH, Maine — From homework to making friends to extracurricular activities, students can have a lot to do at once.

When it comes to mental health support in schools, the National Association of School Psychologists recommends one in-house psychologist for every 500 students. But in Maine, the average is one school psychologist for every 1,500 students.

To bridge this gap so students can focus on what matters most, Ellsworth Elementary Middle School has adopted a new pilot program with Community Health and Counseling Services (CHCS), adding telehealth to its already existing partnership.

“It’s a burden for families to be able to pick up students, take them [to a session,] bring them back, or even schedule after school when kids miss activities they could be involved in,” said April Clifford, principal of Ellsworth Elementary School. “It really connects with the school and allow them to do it here.”

The grant-funded program will allow K-8 students to participate in a telehealth call whenever they feel stressed or need extra support.

“These students would then exit the classroom, be able to access the clinic remotely, receive this service, and then the community health worker would bring the student back to class,” said CHCS executive director Dale Hamilton.

The school hopes the extra support will help pupils when guidance at school might not be enough. According to Educate Maine, one in four high school students in the state reported feeling sad or hopeless for two weeks or more.

“School is where students spend the majority of their days,” Hamilton said. “So to be able to have these readily available resources to meet those needs, we think the outcomes will be better both in terms of treatment needs and educational needs.”

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