salt Lake City When a child is going through a mental health crisis, his or her education may lag behind.
A local hospital is helping students recover while keeping up with their school work.
Sophia Couzins is one person who has benefited from the efforts of the people at University Academy at the Huntsman Mental Health Institute.
Couzins goes everywhere with her goldendoodle, Winnie.
She is the best thing in my life. Without her, I don’t think I would be here today, Couzins said.
She was 13 years old when she started fighting.
I had just changed schools, so I think I felt a little anxiety,” Cousins said.
Depression set in and she couldn’t concentrate in school.
So, it was very overwhelming to think about the things I had to do to get it done,” she said.
After opening up to a school counselor, Couzins found treatment.
“I reached Teen Scope.”
Class at Huntsman Health Institute
She stayed on top of school work in a class at the Huntsman Mental Health Institute. University Academy is one of only a few such recognized schools in the country. Crisjon Solano is the principal.
University Academy is a private, K-12 school that offers our three-day treatment program and youth residential program, Solano said.
Teachers work closely with students, their treatment teams, and parents.
I wouldn’t go to class for the first time in, like, maybe a month of being there, Cousins said.
Solano said kids come from environments where they’re not motivated.
When they get here we can start slow. “Meet them where they are,” Solano said.
With Solano’s help, Couzins took small steps to attend class for a full class period. He developed a love for art therapy.
It was cool and you could make whatever you wanted, he said.
The academy coordinates with the students’ regular school and district.
We’re contacting the school and asking, ‘How is this child doing academically?’ ‘How are they doing interpersonally?’
Students are struggling with mental health challenges while still in their regular schools.
These children do not see themselves as learners; Learning is hard for them, or they love learning but the social aspect of school and some of the pressures that are there are incredibly hard for them,” Solano said.
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in five children in the US has a mental health disorder, and rates of suicide attempts among youth have increased over the past decade.
A report from Clarify Health shows that the number of mental health hospitalizations is expected to increase by 124% from 2016 to 2022.
Contacts are important at school
Dr. Aaron Fischer is Professor of School Psychology and Psychiatry at the University of Utah.
School connectedness is really important,” he said.
He said schools play an important role in a child’s recovery, whether it’s in the hospital or in a traditional classroom.
Getting them to work together is part of their mission with the Utah School Mental Health Collaborative.
I believe that systems do not always communicate with each other. And I think that’s one of the things we’re trying to do, Fisher said.
Setting children up for success so they are ready to return to the classroom is an important part for parents, Fisher says, and making sure the school has a plan.
After his time at University Academy, Couzins earned his GED diploma and his path took him to Salt Lake Community College.
With Vinnie, she is studying for finals.
She knows when I’m feeling stressed and will put her head right on my knee, Cousins said.
The 4.0 student says she never imagined she would want to be an EMT.
I’ve been working really hard to get here and I’m proud of the work I’ve been able to do.”
There are plenty of resources beyond HMHI that families can use – even for families who live in rural parts of the state. You can start here: u-tteclab.com/utah-smh-collaborative.html.
- SafeUT: Parents, students and teachers can connect with a licensed crisis counselor via chat by downloading this SafeUT App or by calling 833-3SAFEUT (833-372-3388)
- Safety Frontline: First responders, including firefighters, law enforcement, EMS and health care professionals, can download and chat with a licensed crisis counselor 24/7/365 at no cost. SafeUT Frontline App,
- SecureUTNG: National Guard members can download this to chat with a licensed crisis counselor 24/7/365 at no charge. SafeUTNG App,
- utah warm line: For non-crisis situations when you need a listener to help you heal and recover from a personal struggle, call 1-833 SPEAKUT from 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m., 7 days a week, year round. Call 365 days a year.
- Huntsman Mental Health Institute A variety of programs, including suicide prevention and crisis services, hospice treatment, therapy and medication management, substance use and addiction recovery, child and adolescent programs, and maternal mental health services including birth trauma, pregnancy loss, infertility and perinatal and Provides services. Mood and anxiety disorders.
- LiveOnUtah.org is a statewide effort to prevent suicide by promoting education, providing resources, and changing Utah’s culture around suicide and mental health. They provide resources for faith-based groups, LGBTQ+, youth, employers, gun suicide prevention and crisis and treatment options.
Counties in Utah provide services for mental health and substance abuse disorders. The centers are run by thirteen local mental health and substance use authorities throughout the state and provide therapy, substance use disorder treatment, support groups, mobile services, youth treatment and more.
These resources and more information can be found at: https://www.uacnet.org/behavioralhealth,
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