Norwich School District vies for school-based behavioral health clinic

NORWICH – The Norwich City School District is taking initiative to have specialized behavioral health services in all four of its schools by September.

The district is working with Chenango County Behavioral Health Services to make treatment from full-time licensed social workers available in the Norwich middle and high schools, Gibson Primary School, and Perry Browne Intermediate School for the 2016-2017 school year. Embedded Behavioral Health Services satellite clinics would go above and beyond the services that are already offered by school guidance counselors and social works.

Unlike school counselors, Behavioral Health Services operates under the auspices of a licensed outpatient clinic. This means kids will have access to more intensive treatment options.

So what’s the drawback? The proposal requires two newly created social worker positions to operate the clinic, and that comes with a nearly $200,000 annual price tag for county taxpayers. Money paid out would be recouped by billing Medicaid and insurance providers for rendered services.

According to Behavioral Health Services Director Ruth Roberts, the initiative could go a long way in preventing mental health issues among youth from becoming more serious issues in adulthood. Moreover, it may eventually slow the demand for services for adults in the Norwich area.

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