Local provider among school mental health grant recipients

November 8, 2018

An Owatonna provider has once again been awarded a grant to bring mental health services into schools.

Fernbrook Family Center, a counseling hub, will receive $2,087,043 over the next three years from the Minnesota Department of Health’s School-Linked Mental Health program.

A total of $11 million was divided between 57 mental health providers every year for the next three years.

Those providers will bring mental health services into Minnesota schools, including assessment, treatment, school-wide trainings, and teacher consultation.

It’s the counseling center’s second go-round with the SLMH grant, said Kelsi Addabbo, the School Based Services Specialist for Fernbrook.

Right now, Fernbrook has a presence in 38 schools in Olmsted County alone, Addabbo said. In each school, they keep an office space for a school-linked mental health therapist, who meets with kids during the school day.

“It’s just like outpatient therapy, we’re just in the school,” Addabbo said.

School-linked care improved counseling access for students who are uninsured or underinsured, reduces barriers like the need for childcare and transportation to bring students to appointments, and generally takes the weight of providing care off parents’ shoulders.

Fernbrook provides therapy services for students, and meets with schools to find new potential participants.

Teachers at the schools are also able to refer students to the school-linked therapist, with a parent’s permission.

With the grant money, Fernbrook and its subcontractors hope to increase the number of schools involved in the project, Addabbo said. That begins with filling up all the remaining schools in Olmsted county.

They may also provide prevention training.

Although she did not provide a number, Addabbo said Fernbrook also has services in schools in Goodhue, Dodge, Miller, Mower, and Waseca counties.

“We have to be able to expand the continuum of care,” she said.

Fernbrook subcontracts with Family Services Rochester, South Central Human Relations Center, and the Zumbro Valley Mental Health Center.

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