Lessons from Parkland: Mental Health Support in the School System

Devereux Family Counseling Center

Utilizing the skills of master’s level therapists, the Devereux Family Counseling Center provides individual, family and group therapy for youth and families. Specialized trauma-informed therapeutic services cover a range of issues, including depression, anxiety, hyperactivity/inattention, relationships, anger management, behavior problems, self-esteem, sexual abuse and commercial sexual exploitation.
Devereux employs 22 therapists to provide therapeutic support for Orange County Public Schools. Through the provisions of these school-based clinical services, Devereux partners with OCPS in over 60 schools at the elementary, middle and high school levels. This partnership is facilitated through a contract with SEDNET, a multiagency network that provides support and a system of care for students with or at-risk of emotional and/or behavioral challenges. Each therapist is assigned specific schools where he or she spends their days partnering with school staff and providing therapeutic services to students in need.
“Prevention and early intervention are key,” explains Jennifer Kammeraad, LMHC and clinical supervisor for the Devereux Family Counseling Center. “If we can address mental health issues early, we can intervene to help a student who might be at-risk or struggling with a mental health issue.”

Mobile Crisis Services

Another valuable support service available in Orange County is the Mobile Crisis Response Team, a free service for youth in crisis. When children and adolescents are experiencing a mental health crisis, services are accessed by calling 2-1-1 and, if determined to meet criteria, a mental health professional arrives onsite within an hour to provide immediate crisis intervention and stabilization. Since its conception in late 2015, the team was dispatched over 1,145 times and has a stabilization rate of 91 percent, with a 100 percent satisfaction rate.
“We want to bring help to youth and families in need,” says Christin Edwards-Salinas, LCSW and program manager for the Devereux Mobile Crisis Services Program. “When a child is losing control emotionally or exhibiting dangerous behaviors, sometimes families or teachers just need a quick intervention to stabilize the situation and get back on track.”

This program is made available in partnership with Orange County Government, Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health Florida, Florida Hospital and the Heart of Florida United Way 211. Immediate services are provided 24/7 for Orange County youth between the ages of birth and 17 years who are experiencing a crisis related to mental health needs, substance abuse issues or a trauma-related event.

If you or your child is thinking about harming yourself or others, get help immediately.

If there is a medical emergency, please call 9-1-1 first.
Mobile Crisis Services (Orange County residents only) dial 2-1-1
National Crisis Text Line: 741741
National Suicide Prevention Line at 1.800.273.TALK (8255).


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Written by Lyndsay Fogarty

Lyndsay Fogarty has had many roles at Central Florida Lifestyle, working her way from intern to contributing writer to managing editor. She is a graduate of the University of Central Florida’s Nicholson School of Communication where she earned her degree in journalism. Along the way, she has learned that teamwork and dedication to your craft will get you far, and a positive outlook on the present will get you even farther.

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