Ector County I.S.D's new telemedicine program helps students open up about their mental health

Ector County I.S.D's new telemedicine program helps students open up about their mental health

ODESSA, TX (KWES) - Making it easier to help students talk about mental health.

Megan Siepak, a senior at New Tech Odessa said, "It's been a really hard four years at New Tech. New Tech is a demanding school. There are a lot of great opportunities here but there's also a lot of stress and a lot of pressure."

That's what Ector County ISD's new telemedicine program does for students like Siepak.

"My personality tends to drag me down, so I'm constantly having to fight that natural part of me that wants to bring myself down, that hates myself," said Siepak.

This year middle school or high school students who went to the nurse's office to tell them that something was bothering them, had the opportunity to speak to a certified psychiatrist on the computer.

Laura Mathew, (RN) Nursing Department Director for ECISD said, "Why we thought it would be helpful at the school setting is because our students wouldn't have to go anywhere. They wouldn't have to take time off from school."

ECISD and Texas Tech here in Odessa partnered on this program. A program that helped around 40 students in the district.

"We were able to pick up on things like depression, anxiety, panic attacks, or anything else going on," said Mathew.

The program allowed Megan to talk to her psychiatrist once a week, giving her the outlet she needed.

"We're just told we're teenagers and we're supposed to feel that way. Perhaps that's true but it's also important to know that there are other options," said Siepak.

It's those options helped Megan navigate through high school as she prepares to cross the stage for graduation.

"If you have a mental illness you need to get treatment and it can get fixed. There are ways to cope. There are ways to deal with it and there are people that are willing to sit down with you and care," said Siepak.

The psychiatrists were available to the students for two hours per week. School officials said they will be bringing back the program for students next fall.

Copyright 2017 KWES. All rights reserved.