Health Center expands to Walla Walla High School to focus on mental health support
The Health Center Board unanimously approved the expansion of services to Walla Walla High School beginning in the 2017-2018 school year with a focus on mental health services.
“The data from our research along with recent tragic events in our community have made it abundantly clear there is a need to expand our services to more area high school students,” said Ted Koehler, Health Center Board President. “Following this year’s successful expansion at Pioneer Middle School, we felt confident the timing was right for further expansion to Walla Walla High School.”
Significant funding for the expansion was made available through Walla Walla County. Funds were allocated from the county’s one-tenth of one percent of sales tax revenue which specifically called for the expansion of mental health services in the area.
The Health Center clinics provide primary care, care coordination and behavioral health services focusing on mental health support. The Health Center clinics started operations in Walla Walla Public Schools in 2009 at Lincoln High School. Expansion continued at Blue Ridge Elementary in 2012. Pioneer Middle School is the organization’s most recent expansion in 2016.
“We provide social connection, concrete support and the skills and opportunity for experiences that build resilience,” said Stan Ledington, Executive Director of The Health Center. “The earlier we can get to students who are struggling, the more positive impact we can have on their lives and their ability to learn.”
Walla Walla Public Schools continues to emphasize the importance of social and emotional well-being, a key component of its new strategic plan. Superintendent Wade Smith has advocated for this expansion since assuming his duties in July.
“The Health Center has a proven track record in our district of delivering on these critical services which help address our state’s chronic absenteeism concerns in support of academic achievement,” said Superintendent Wade Smith. “We are thrilled to expand our relationship with The Health Center as we get even more serious about helping support student mental health needs in our schools.”
Planning for operations implementation is currently underway. Staffing and other logistical details are being addressed in anticipation of opening the clinic on the first day of school.
“There is a lot of work to be done, but we’re all motivated by this opportunity to meet the needs of our high school students,” said Renee Harms, Director of Clinic Operations for The Health Center. “We are meeting with Principal Pete Peterson and his staff as well as The Health Center staff to identify needs and define our expansion plan.”
The Executive Director and The Health Center Board extends its heartfelt gratitude to Walla Walla County Commissioners Jim Johnson, Jim Duncan and Todd Kimball for recognizing the organization’s work and making it possible to reach even more students with these funds.
“We appreciate this vote of confidence from the commissioners and will do our part to provide quality services in support of these well documented mental health needs,” Ledington said. “We will need additional funds for this significant expansion and we know Walla Walla community members will step up to support our growing organization.”
About the Health Center:
Since 2009, The Health Center has improved the academic and life success of nearly 1500 students across three campuses by providing on-site, no-cost, holistic physical and mental health care services. The Health Center was the first school-based health center to open in Eastern Washington and it remains the only one that operates as a non-profit organization. The Health Center's innovative model combines accessible physical care and mental health care as part of resilience-based, wrap-around services offered in concert with partner schools. This strategy is producing documented improvements in the academic and life success of participating students. To learn more about The Health Center or to DONATE, visitwww.thehealthcenterww.org