In-school behavioral health aids students, families
January 13, 2012
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii -- For more than 20 years, the Child Psychiatry Program at Tripler Army Medical Center has been a supportive element to school-aged military keiki, here, and most recently added Wahiawa Elementary School to its list.
Since the partnership began, TAMC has implemented its mental health and behavioral health programs at Wheeler Elementary, Wheeler Middle and Hale Kula Elementary schools. In addition, TAMC recently expanded its program to include child development centers.
Services that are provided to students, families and school staff include individual, group and family therapy, prevention programs and parent workshops.
Dr. Albert Saito, director, School Mental Health Team, TAMC, met with Col. Douglas Mulbury, commander, U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii, recently, and reported that the benefits of school-based programs are invaluable and productive.
"School-based programs reduce the time away from duty or work because of the greater ease of access," Saito said. "Instead of having to drive to Tripler, parents and children are able to receive services in a safe and private area at their child's school."
At Wheeler Middle School, in particular, the number of behavioral reports has steadily decreased since 2008, Saito said.
The School-Based Behavioral Health Program at Wahiawa Elementary School is now serving as a pilot program and is a model for schools across the country.
Troy Tamura, principal, Wahiawa Elementary School, is excited about this new program.
"Our program is a collaboration with TAMC, Queen's Hospital and the Hawaii Department of Education," he said. "Through this unique partnership, we will be able to provide services to all military and civilian students."
The Queen's Mental Health Team will provide services to the civilian students, while the TAMC team will provide services to military students.
Since 2008, approximately 540 children and adolescents have been evaluated and treated through School Mental Health Team programs at various schools on island. Students are referred to the program by parents, teachers, counselors and others who identify a need for services. All referrals should go through the student services coordinator, or SSC, at a child's school. The SSC will then obtain consent from the child's parent or guardian. The student's referral will be discussed and will then be assigned to a provider and/or team.
Saito said this process is necessary and efficient.
"Once the referral is made, the therapists will be able to provide appropriate services, such as medication management or comprehensive evaluation and testing," he said.
School staff, including counselors, SSCs, teachers and administrators all play a key role in this program. They meet on a regular basis with therapists from TAMC and Queens to update each other on the progress of each student.
This team then meets with other stakeholders, including school liaison officers and Saito, for a quarterly advisory meeting. These meetings are essential in maintaining a successful program that benefits students and families who are in need of behavioral and mental health services.