A creative solution for providing mental health care in Salem

Currently, there is a massive mental health crisis among students. The need is so pressing that President Biden called for increasing mental health services in schools during his recent State of the Union address. 

Students who are referred for counseling often end up having their names put on long waiting lists, which was the case in Salem, Mass.

“A lot of the community partners that we would typically go to have waitlists that are weeks or sometimes months long,” Mia Riccio, Salem’s City Connects Program Manager, says. “The access just isn’t there. It’s especially hard for families who are under- or uninsured.”

To meet this need, Salem’s City Connects program is working with community partners to offer help more quickly by providing tele-mental health services. 

Since 2016, Salem has deliberately taken a citywide approach toward meeting children’s needs, and last year, the city formed a Mental Health Task Force. At the time, as the local news source Patch media explains, school Superintendent Steve Zrike sent a letter to the school community, promising to leverage resources to “ensure that our community receives access to the highest quality services in a timely manner.”

“Zrike said the task force will look to find ways to provide students services both in and out of school,” the Patch adds.

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