ODESSA, TX (KWES) - National statistics reveal that 20 percent of adolescents and teens struggle with a mental health issue. That's a big reason why the Ector County Independent School District is looking to implement new mental health clinics in their high schools.
"Some of our students had some mental health issues that were difficult for them. We felt that they would probably succeed more in their academics if someone was taking care of those issues," said Laura Mathew, ECISD Director of Nursing.
A memorandum of understanding was presented for approval by the ECISD Board of Trustees. The agreement is a joint effort between the Texas Tech Health Science Services Center and ECISD. Texas Tech would provide a school-based health clinic.
"That eliminates the need for the child to go somewhere else. They can stay in a familiar surrounding like the school. They would get the same care that they would if they were going to a doctor's office," said Mathew.
Under the agreement, the mental health clinics would be present in Permian High School, Odessa High School and George H.W. Bush New Tech Odessa. The services include mental health assessments, screenings and treatment plans. Evaluations of students would be done on recommendation from staff and with parental consent.
"They could be referred either self-referral, the students could self identify or more than likely it's going to be their school counselor or nurse, who knows that they are having problems," said Mathew.
The district will be modeling their mental health clinic after districts in bigger cities, such as Houston ISD.
Above all, the district is looking to bring awareness.
"We are hoping to, in general, educate our students and our families more about these issues, which can be difficult to talk about," said Mathew.
The board will vote on the memorandum at the next meeting on March 29. If it's approved, the mental health services will be available to students starting next school year.