TWIN FALLS, Idaho — The Twin Falls School District is teaming up with BPA Health to start a new program to help students and their families address issues affecting their performance in the classroom and their mental health.
“We all need help at some point and so I think talking about these things and saying, "it’s OK," it just kind of normalizes it, and it’s huge," said Jeremy Battershell, the director of Business Development for BPA Health. "We need to do better on mental health.”
The Student and Families Assistance Program (SFAP) will offer five free counseling sessions to students K-12 to discuss any issues they may be facing.
People can choose either in-person sessions or virtual ones.
“Being able to offer free sessions, hopefully, will lower some of those barriers for those students and their families," said Eva Craner, the public relations director for the Twin Falls School District. "In addition, I think it puts mental health as something that’s easier to talk about because it’s more accessible.”
If a student or a student's family uses up all five meetings and would like to continue having regular counseling sessions, there is an option to do so.
“That provider that they’re working with can help them either access their medical plan or do a referral to a higher level of service if needed,” said Battershell.
For people who are interested and wish to take advantage of this new resource being provided by the district, there will be a quick registration process they will have to go through first.
“Phone will be the primary method of getting a hold of us. We’ll do a quick intake with them to just kind of do an assessment on who is needing the services, what type of services are needed," said Battershell. "Then we’ll actually connect them with a counselor in their area that’s appropriate.”
The program is set to begin on September 1, and the school district has already seen families express interest.
District officials say they're even more excited to provide this opportunity and see how it could impact the community.
“This is something that could have a really big impact on our community as a whole as we’re working with these children so that they can learn coping skills in different situations, they can learn some resiliency,” said Craner.
To make this program possible, the school district is utilizing funding from the American Rescue Plan which was COVID-19 relief funding from the government. The district will use this funding to support the program for two years during which they will be taking data to see the results of these sessions and how many people take advantage of the program.