SPRING VALLEY, Minn. - Beginning this school year, a mental health therapist is working at Kingsland Public Schools.
Hannah Hill is a school-linked mental health therapist through Zumbro Valley Health Center. She's working with Pre-K through 12th graders at Kingsland. In the last 5 years, Zumbro Valley Health Center has placed school-linked mental health therapists at the Alternative Learning Center in Rochester and the Pine Island School District.
Without an in-school therapist, Kingsland students have to travel at least 30 mins to a mental health care provider, which can pull students out of class for at least half a school day. "Especially in rural communities such as a this one, there's limited resources and a lot of families don't have the income, support, access to transportation to get to and from Rochester. We've had clients who say they don't even have enough gas money to get to Rochester," says Hill. "Being here, I can just pull the students from class instead of having yet another appointment for parents to get their kids to."
"We have a lot of kids in crisis. There are a lot of mental health issues going on out there and the nearest hub for parents is Rochester or Austin. If we could have something here that not only the kids could access during the school day, but during the summer and families could also access it, why not?" says Superintendent Jim Hecimovich.
In the first week of school, Hill is already seeing 3-4 students daily and is expecting her schedule to continue to fill with students.
Zumbro Valley Health Center is part of a collaborative effort with Fernbrook Family Center and and Family Services Rochester to place therapists in schools. Fernbrook Family Center has therapists in Rochester Public Schools and Family Services Rochester has therapists in Byron and Dover-Eyota school districts.