Last year Oak Hills announced a new partnership between the school district, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and MindPeace. The partnership provides Oak Hills High
School (OHHS) students access to high quality mental health services at school to help ensure academic success.
Currently, the partnership is in the ninth month of delivering school-based mental health services to students at OHHS, including services delivered to students during the summer. Initial results indicate students and families are very interested and appreciate having access to mental health services for students. “It has been wonderful to be able to serve students as a coordinated team. Our ultimate goal is to improve the academic outcomes for our students,” said Susan Shelton, Executive Director of MindPeace.
Oak Hills is working with MindPeace and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center to expand services to offer more available appointments to students during the day. “We are thrilled with the tremendous success so far,” said Mark Winters, Special Programs Principal at OHHS.
Parents and community members are encouraged to tune into the Oak Hills’ website and district Facebook page. The Oak Hills team recently sat down with Dr. Sorter of Cincinnati Children’s and asked him some questions about the partnership. He answered frequently asked questions and shared his enthusiasm for the partnership. Video clips will be released in the coming months.
Oak Hills is one of the first large suburban districts to attempt this kind of partnership. “It is really important that children and their families have access to mental health services no matter their payer source. That is why MindPeace was so excited to help create this important partnership,” said Shelton. Nationally, at least one in five children and adolescents struggle with mental health concerns.
Unfortunately, there can be long waiting times for children who need mental health care, especially those with private health insurance.
Trained mental health professionals are on location at OHHS, and Cincinnati Children’s is able to provide on-site five days a week for students and their families. There is no cost to the district as a result of this partnership. Students may choose to access these services or may be referred by staff members or parents. Parents will be notified and will be asked to give permission before any services are provided.
Cincinnati Children’s is a national leader in graduate medical education, research, and pediatric medical services. MindPeace is an organization that helps align partners, infrastructure, and processes for children’s mental health solutions. Planning for this partnership began in 2010 by the OHHS Family Civic Engagement Team after the district received a grant from the American Psychiatric Foundation to raise awareness about mental health concerns.
“In many regards this is a match made in heaven – three organizations that care about the achievement and adjustment of youth working together to improve outcomes for our community,” said Winters. “Mental health concerns are more prevalent than we often think and too many children are underserved. When students don’t have access to mental health services they are prevented from reaching their full potential. In turn, our schools can’t achieve our goal of helping students become
career and college ready.”
In many cases, children in suburban districts, such as Oak Hills, are underserved because private insurance coverage has been limited. The three partners are working to create a model where services are available to students no matter their payer source. “This knowledge, coupled with the fact that 90 percent of all people who develop a mental disorder show warning signs during their teen years, make it vital that we increase the mental health services and expertise that we make available to our students,” Winters said. “This partnership is an exciting opportunity to work on an important issue – the often under-served mental health needs of our suburban youth.”
“To date, most school-based mental health services target children with mainly Medicaid insurance. We are hopeful that through this exciting partnership we will be able to develop a ground-breaking model that results in seamless mental health services for children and families in need no matter their payer source,” said Dr. Michael Sorter, Division Director, Cincinnati Children’s Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.