Carmel Clay Schools to enter in Behavioral and Mental Health Services Agreement with Ascension St. Vincent Wellness


Submitted Photo: Clizia Martini

Clizia Martini, CHS Active Minds co-president and junior, meets over Zoom with the other co-president of Active Minds to plan for their virtual callout meeting on Sept. 11. Martini said Active Minds focuses on spreading mental health resources and awareness, and their club is supportive of the Behavioral and Mental Health Services Agreement Carmel Clay Schools is entering in.

Grace Xu

On Aug. 24, the school board approved the action of Carmel Clay Schools entering in a Behavioral and Mental Health Services Agreement with Ascension St. Vincent Wellness. According to Superintendent Michael Beresford, this is an initiative that will allow for in-school therapists starting from around October, and is something that he has been working toward for over two years.

“A lot of parents can’t drive, leave work, come get their student, take them to therapy and come back. [With the Behavioral and Mental Health Services Agreement], students could just, during SRT, go down and see a therapist, and then go back to class. So that whole barrier—all the logistics are gone. That’s the beautiful part of it; I think it’ll give access to mental health services that some students couldn’t get,” Beresford said. “Although, it would be just like going to an outside therapist, only at school. Students will still have to go through their insurance and work with their families, but folks that can’t do that, we know we can find ways to help them.”

Clizia Martini, co-president of CHS Active Minds and junior, said she also believes the partnership with St. Vincent will be beneficial for CHS students. As Active Minds is focused on breaking the stigma against mental health and providing resources for CHS students, Martini said she recently met with the school counselors to discuss the initiative regarding in-school therapists.

“I think (the Behavioral and Mental Health Services Agreement is) really great,” Martini said. “Sometimes we may not feel comfortable going to counselors or we may feel concerned that they’ll tell our parents. So just getting to be able to go to someone ourselves and not having to worry about what the effects or consequences are going to be, I think is really great. And I think it’s also wonderful because they can bring a true specialist into this.”

Beresford added he was excited to finally see the initiative of in-school therapy come to fruition starting this school year. He also said he was proud of the school district working together to make the school reopening possible, and emphasized the importance of continuing to exercise caution.

“My message has just been to sustain the effort because that’s what’s gonna keep us in school and keep us moving in the right direction. For example, social distancing—and part of that social distancing is the way you orient yourself to other people. In other words, if you and I are 6 feet apart, but we’re facing one another, that’s not as good as if we were 6 feet apart next to each other,” Beresford said. “There’s been talk about maybe a vaccine coming out before the end of the year, so I’m encouraged. If we can just sustain the effort for just a few more months, we could come back to where life is normal, and I’m hoping we can get there, the sooner the better.”