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Nonprofit expands mental health services for area students

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As students, parents and educators navigate through a school with the looming threat of COVID-19, a nonprofit that partners with school districts on 165 campuses, is expanding its mental health programs to meet students where they are.

Communities in Schools of Houston recently announced it is expanding its Mobile Mental Health Team and increasing their presence on more school campuses this fall. Last school year, the team covered 17 campuses across Houston. This year, they are expanding to 35.

Comprised of licensed mental health providers, the CIS Mobile Mental Health Team intends to provide flexible, intensive mental health support to students as needed, whether on-campus or off.

“As students return to campuses and the demand for additional CIS mental health support continues to increase, we will do whatever it takes to identify and provide at a moment’s notice needed support to students who may be struggling through issues on their own,” said CIS of Houston CEO Lisa Descant.

CIS partners with school campuses to provide integrated student support for all ages. Support usually ranges from hosting career days, anger management group sessions, and one-on-one counseling sessions. CIS is also known for going beyond for students and families, like providing COVID-19 stipends for families who are struggling.

Last school year, CIS of Houston helped more than 125,000 students through its integrated support specialists at campuses in Aldine ISD, Alief ISD, Fort Bend ISD, Houston ISD, Spring ISD, Spring Branch ISD, Southwest School and Lone Star Colleges. CIS announced they are also expanding their support to the Texas Connections Academy, a virtual learning public school.

According to Amanda Thompson, a member of CIS’ Mobile Mental Health Team who assists students in in the Spring Branch Independent School District, there has been a spike in demand for mental health services this year since CIS created the department

“Whether a student is struggling with anxiety, returning to classes, grief and loss issues, any type of trauma or mental health issues, the CIS mobile mental health team offers brief but intensive mental health support to students who need it most,” said Thompson. Thompson also said they provide referrals for mental health support outside of school, as needed.

According to Thompson, their support service will meet with the student or family to assess what their needs are and determine their level of need.

“We’re seeing a lot of students that are exhibiting anxiety, social anxiety, grief and loss,” Thompson said. “We might determine that a student could be a good fit for a group or a social anxiety support group, if that is something that the student is interested in. We are flexible to be able to do group and individual services.”