The Public Health – Seattle & King County opened Washington State’s first school-based health center in 1989 and currently operates 12 school-based health centers. Nine of these centers are located in high schools and three are in middle schools. Two centers just opened in fall 2001. The funded-project, entitled “Reaching for Excellence”, will enhance mental health services in seven of the twelve centers by adding on-site psychiatric evaluation and consultation to mental health services provided by clinical social workers.
Through a partnership with the University of Washington Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences, an adolescent psychiatry fellow will provide evaluation and diagnostic assessment of patients, medication management, staff training and consultation, and participate in developing treatment goals for patients. With the psychiatrist spending approximately 4-8 hours per month at each school-based health center, an estimated 105 students will be evaluated each year and training will be provided to approximately 55 staff members to assist in the coordination of services. .
Through the Caring for Kids initiative, the Reaching for Excellence program will benefit almost 1200 students each year targeting students with the greatest needs, and this model will improve the quality and effectiveness of mental health services provided in Seattle’s school-based health centers.