Agnesian HealthCare, a member of SSM Health, is collaborating with the Fond du Lac School District to address the mental, behavioral and social needs of vulnerable and underserved children, families and caregivers in three elementary schools with the creation of a mental health navigator position.
“Mental health is a community health priority in Fond du Lac County, as well as addressing social determinants of health,” according to Matt Doll, PhD, director of Outpatient Behavioral Health, Treffert Center and Autism Services. “Limited access to mental/behavioral health services and professionals, inadequate household and social support systems, health literacy, and discrimination are or can be gap for the successful thriving of some Fond du Lac area children.”
Within the three schools, on average, 57.7% of the students are persons of color, 82.7% are categorized as coming from economically disadvantaged households, and about 6% experience homelessness.
The mental health navigator works with school principals, teachers and counselors to identify and schedule culturally competent training and information on adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), trauma informed care (TIC), and question persuade refer (QPR) suicide prevention techniques. The navigator is also using assessment and screening tools to identify unmet mental, behavioral health and social service needs among the children, families and caregivers. Collaboration is also ongoing with the Fondy CARES program to set up community-based mental health therapy within the school and a system of referrals for children, families and caregivers to obtain mental/behavioral health services and to obtain services and resources to address unmet needs.