Agreement provides therapist to serve county schools

By NICOLE SMITH
Posted 1/7/20

Students in the Walker County school system will now have another resource to address their mental health needs.

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Agreement provides therapist to serve county schools

Posted

Students in the Walker County school system will now have another resource to address their mental health needs.

At a meeting of the Walker County Board of Education in December, board members approved a memorandum of agreement with Northwest Alabama Mental Health Center that will provide a therapist for students who could benefit from one-on-one treatment.

Walker County Schools Mental Health Coordinator Misty Whisenhunt said the opportunity is being made possible through a collaboration between the Alabama State Department of Education and the Alabama Department of Mental Health. 

The agreement comes at no charge to the school board.

"We will be working with Northwest Alabama Mental Health, and they are in the process right now of hiring a therapist just for Walker County Schools," Whisenhunt said. 

The therapist will be centrally located at one of the school system's buildings — likely at the old Walker High School that houses the 180 program, according to Whisenhunt.  

"They will be able to go out and assess and evaluate students on the spot," she said. "They will have students that they see regularly to provide individual therapy."

The therapist will also be able to work with families and teachers.

"There's a wide array of things that they're going to be able to help provide within our school district," Whisenhunt said.

Walker County Schools Superintendent Dr. Joel Hagood said he is encouraged for the school system to have the new partnership, as well as existing agreements with Health Connect America and other mental health organizations.  

"This is continuing to provide resources and support to our students and their mental health needs that may exist," Hagood said. "This is big. This is really good for our system."       

Board Chairman Brad Ingle said it is his understanding there will be a push in the next legislative session for more resources to address the mental health needs of students.

"Everybody should know that that's a big thing now that we need to be addressing and working towards," Ingle said. "This is a very good start, but I also feel like there's much work to be done in that area."

In other business, the board:

• recognized two Carbon Hill Elementary School educators who just received National Board for Professional Teaching Standards certification — Amy Atkins and Lesley Prince.

It is a highly regarded accomplishment for educators that recognizes them as experts in their field.  

"That is a quite lengthy and intensive process to acquire that certification," Hagood said. "There's a lot of good things going on in our school system."