KP high school building

King Philip Regional High School in Wrentham.

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Many signs point to students’ mental health issues growing locally and across the country — especially with the coronavirus pandemic.

Families often are unable to access services and professionals outside of school districts, leaving many students without the help they need.

To assist families, the King Philip, Plainville, Wrentham and Norfolk school districts have partnered with INTERFACE Referral Service to connect students with outpatient mental health clinicians in the area.

INTERFACE Referral Service is administered by William James College in Newton. The program helps provide avenues for parents and guardians to find outpatient mental health providers outside of school.

A helpline is available to all students in the four school districts. It has been found to be helpful in navigating barriers to access care, school officials say.

“Oftentimes school counseling staff are spending a great deal of time seeking available outside providers for families or working with students who would benefit from a higher level of intervention beyond the scope of the school professional,” Regional Director of Wellness Dot Pearl said. “Having INTERFACE Referral Service to assist families with addressing their child’s mental health needs and identifying matched outpatient mental health providers will enable counselors to work with more of the students in their care during school hours.”

The INTERFACE Helpline, 1-888-244-6843, is available from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and families can call to consult with counselors about available resources and receive personalized matched referrals for their child.

Referral matches are based on specialty need, availability, insurance or cost and location.

Once families are provided a matched referral, the INTERFACE resource and referral counselor will follow up with the family within two weeks to check on the status of the referral.

Families or students in crisis who contact INTERFACE are assessed and referred to a crisis provider, if appropriate.

In a mental health or substance use crisis, Riverside Community Care, the area Emergency Service Provider, is available 24/7 at 800-529-5077. Riverside is an alternative to going to an emergency room. Services are provided on the phone or in the home, school or community setting.

To prepare for the launch of the resources, Tanya Snyder, the clinical supervisor for INTERFACE, reviewed services with administrators and counseling team members from the four school districts in late January.

Stephen Peterson can be reached at 508-236-0377.

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