Lutheran Social Services of Wisconsin and Upper Michigan (LSS) announces the launch of its School-Centered Mental Health model, a community-based program that utilizes schools as a hub to provide services to students and their families both at school and in the home. The pilot program with United Community Center (UCC), which begins this school year, stands to help students and their families focus on mental health and empower them to stay in control of their mental wellness through intentional engagement of the entire family and the school system.
“As a country, we have fallen short meeting the mental health needs of our children. Lutheran Social Services’ school-centered mental health model addresses this need and helps remove barriers families face in getting access to the care they need,” said Héctor Colόn, President and CEO of LSS. “Through our pilot with United Community Center, we hope to close the gap and give children the resources they need to grow into successful and thriving young adults by building healthy communities, beginning with a strong foundation of mental wellness.”
LSS’s comprehensive school-centered mental health model focuses on improving health equity of the children and families in communities throughout Wisconsin. LSS’ pilot program will build on the current success of its school-based mental health programs by expanding beyond therapy in the school setting to providing supports and services in the home and community. The model features a coaching approach to empowering the child, the family, their school and community at large.
“The United Community Center understands the importance of preparing our staff to help meet the challenges our students face with stress and anxiety. Too often these challenges impede their learning,” said Ricardo Diaz, Executive Director of United Community Center. “LSS brings a great deal of expertise in this area, and know this will benefit students in Milwaukee. This partnership will hopefully be just the start of a long-term relationship to best serve the families of our community.”
The pilot programs will be housed at UCC’s Bruce Guadalupe School and Acosta Middle School, 1028 South 9th Street, Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53204.
The pilot program is expected to result in reductions in the need for foster care and youth justice programs, lower truancy rates, improved school attendance, improved academic achievement and improved safety with reduced school violence.
In order to address policy change needed to sustain and scale the comprehensive model, and remove silos for all those working on improving the mental health of children in Wisconsin, LSS has formed a Partners of Change Committee to meet in September. The committee will be made up of county and state government representatives, mental health advocacy groups, local health systems, community organizations, committed funders and community members with lived experience.