When The School Nurse Isn't Enough: How We Care For Students In Crisis

With mental health issues affecting up to 1 in 5 children, schools are expected to be ready to help a student when the need arises—yet they often lack the resources to do so. Many Twin Cities school districts have turned to Behavioral Healthcare Providers (BHP), a wholly owned entity of Fairview, to provide mental health assessments for students in crisis.

“Too many children—up to 80 percent—never get the mental health help that they need,” says Mindy Dombrovski, LICSW, BHP clinical supervisor. “It’s not easy to distinguish a student’s behavior issues from a true mental health need. We want to bring this resource to students so they can always get help the moment they need it—whatever their need is.”

Help comes to campus

When a school requests an assessment, BHP sends a mental health professional to conduct an assessment with the student and, if possible, a student’s guardian—either in person or over the phone.

A level of care is then determined for the student. Based on the recommended level of care, BHP will either schedule an outpatient appointment with a community provider or assist to help locate an inpatient bed.

Covering a large number of students

BHP’s services cover more than 160 metro area schools that serve approximately 90,000 children, making a difference for students, families and teachers alike.

“BHP has been a wonderful partner in supporting our school district and the students who require mental health support,” said Dan Porter, lead social worker at Northeast Metro Intermediate School District 916. “They respond quickly, provide referrals and follow-up with both families and schools, and streamline admission when a child needs hospitalization. I have often called it ‘Cadillac Mobile Crisis Service.’”

“A great majority of our programming is for students who often have complex and significant needs that impact them in all facets of their life, not just when they are in school,” said Melissa Schaller, director of special education for Intermediate School District 917. “We wanted responsive services for crisis—including follow-up—to serve the best interest of our students and their families, and BHP does that.”

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