Integrating behavioral health and well-being services into Alaska schools
These students from Wendler Middle School in Anchorage, AK are participating in the integrated behavioral health program.
Even before COVID-19, Alaska’s youth faced high rates of depression, anxiety, substance use and behavioral health concerns and one of the highest rates of death from suicide in the nation. The pandemic worsened the youth mental health crisis in Alaska and across the country.
Recognizing that we must do better for our children and their families, Providence had a vision to partner with schools as primary sites for providing consistent, accessible and culturally responsive services to students, and to scale this approach into many Alaska communities.
In 2022, Providence Alaska and Providence’s Well Being Trust formed a strategic partnership with the Anchorage and Kodiak Island public school districts, as well as Volunteers of America Alaska, to provide a range of behavioral health and well-being services.
With support from its partners, Providence Alaska is hiring staff and placing behavioral health clinicians in schools to reach at-risk students who need access to mental health care.
Increasing access to mental health care by integrating clinicians into the schools and bringing services and resources closer to students is expected to improve health and well-being, reduce suicidal ideation and emergency department visits, decrease stigma, improve academic performance, and enhance staff resilience. Early reports from students indicate improvements in social and emotional skills, family relationships and feelings of productivity.
Through this partnership, Providence Alaska ministries and affiliates are delivering life-changing mental health and well-being services to students throughout Alaska and adults who care about them.