Salem-Keizer schools partnering with mental health treatment provider for students, families

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For the first time, Salem-Keizer schools are partnering with an outside treatment provider to give students access to mental health care.

Nationally, one out of every five students will deal with some kind of mental health issue during the school year, but in the Salem-Keizer district, the rate is about one in four.

Donna Burnett, a school counselor at Crossler Middle School, said it's harder than ever these days to be a kid or teenager.

"Kids feel isolated. Kids are, with social media, they're saying things to each other that they would never say to each other's face," said Burnett.

With that in mind, the district this year made the decision to partner with Trillium Family Services to provide professional counseling.

Patricia Short, a Trillium counselor, works with Burnett to identify students and parents who could use some extra help.

"So far they've all seemed to be really on board. They want help not just for their kid, but for their family," said Short.

Short said the stigma that used to be attached to mental health seems to be gradually lifting, and at Crossler, kids are walking in to get help on their own.

Teens who feel isolated and alone sometimes lash out, which, in the worst cases, can end in incidents like the Parkland school shooting.

Burnett said the hope is that students learn to manage their stress and anxiety, and ask for help when they can't.

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