Mental Health Services in Schools - Judson Center

Mental Health Services in Schools

Our Behavioral Health Team has created a program to purposefully address the mental health crisis facing youth in a familiar setting—their school. Currently, we are collaborating with local schools in Macomb County to provide this service, with clinicians present in two K-12 school districts: Michigan Collegiate and Michigan Math & Science Academy. Offering on-site mental health services in schools is just one of the ways we are dedicated to supporting our community in achieving whole health and well-being.

Responding to a Crisis

A recent report released by Stanford University revealed that Michigan has the 4th highest absenteeism rate in the country. The report mentions factors that could be contributing to students missing school. One factor is the declining mental health of children and teens. In the latest State of Mental Health in America Report, researchers revealed that more than 1 in 10 students living in the U.S. are experiencing depression that is severely harming their ability to function. The staggering reality is that our young people are facing a crisis, and if we want to help them, we have to change our approach. And that’s exactly what we’ve done.Teenager in a counselors office at school

“Where the community resides is where we should be,” says Jamila Stevens, Director of Integrated Care at Judson Center. She continues, “As a Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic (CCBHC), we’re committed to serving the community however we can. To offer the kind of help and hope we have been tasked with delivering, we must be willing to step outside these walls and go to those most in need. Our School-Based Behavioral Health program is just one way we can do this.”

Easier Access Brings Better Results

Since mental health is directly tied to an individual’s overall health outcomes, an integrated care setting enables people to check in on their mental and physical well-being in a one-stop location, reducing the stigma surrounding mental health services.

“Mental health services should be accessible to all, and most people need some level of support, as we saw throughout the pandemic,” says Stevens. “Accessing support in an integrated care clinic like ours breaks down that stigma. There’s even a shared lobby, which means no one knows why a patient is here. In addition, when many people who struggle with mental and physical health issues put off getting regular care. This delay means they end up in the hospital, emergency room, and inpatient facilities. This model allows you to get everything you need in one place. Easier access leads to better long-term results.”

Removing Barriers to Care

Offering our Mental Health Services in schools is an important way to remove a barrier preventing students from accessing care. In 2023, Mental Health America reported that a staggering 59% of youth with major depression did not receive any treatment. This new model deployed in local schools makes care more accessible for students. Rather than needing to call, make an appointment, and travel, students are steps away from the help they need. “A child can come down and request to speak with someone from our team. In addition, a parent can contact us or a school staff member may identify a student who’s particularly struggling, talk with their parent, and then, with the parent’s permission, make a referral for services,” says Susan Salhaney, Judson Center Chief Operating Officer.

Schools are already reporting positive results due to the program’s availability. Mrs. Warren, Dean of Culture at a Michigan Collegiate Elementary School, says, “More students are reaching out now about mental health issues since having a Judson Center school-based therapist present. The services that Judson Center provides on-site are important and needed.”

Working Together to Support Students

Our clinicians are onsite to offer students Outpatient Behavioral Health and Crisis Intervention services. These Mental Health Services in school can include individual counseling for depression, anxiety, grief, and trauma. Our team collaborates with school social workers and administrative staff to provide the best care possible. Together, we can meet the needs of families within their context.  The program includes outreach to the entire school population – parents, students, and staff. Our team members even attend

parent-teacher conferences and open houses. School and Clinical staff provide educational workshops to parents to help them better understand the many factors contributing to a student’s mental health.

Healing for the Future

One newest addition this school year is offering students Social Emotional Learning group therapy. A therapist and staff collaborate in these settings to facilitate a therapy group. Social Emotional Learning therapy groups help students enhance social skills, alleviate anxiety, and develop empathy for their peers. Younger students discuss topics including coping skills, communication, and self-esteem. For older students, topics in these groups may address topics like dealing with grief, depression, bullying, anger, or tragedy in emotionally healthy ways.

Jamila Stevens, Director of Integrated Care, says, “We desire to increase our reach and partner with more schools. We want to serve as many youth and families as we can. Furthermore, we want to remove barriers to services and erase the stigma around seeking behavioral health services.”

The youth we serve today will be the leaders of tomorrow. When we choose to support their mental health now, we create a brighter future for them and us all.

Learn more about Judson Center Health and our Integrated Health Services by visiting