Carlow University graduate students to help with counseling in Woodland Hills School District

FOREST HILLS, Pa. — Inside Woodland Hills High School, more and more rooms are filling a need.

“I remember there was a point in time I was going every day because I just needed somewhere to calm down and relax,” Olivia Davidson, a 10th-grader, said.

The healing room has helped not just Davidson, but hundreds of students in this high school.  But sometimes the self-healing process isn’t enough, some students need more.

“I think there is such a big stigma around mental health there are a lot of people our age that don’t want to talk about it,” 10th-grader Aubrey Moon said.

That’s where a $4.9 million grant partnership with Carlow University comes into play. Starting next week, the university will send five graduate students and two professors to the district, split between Dickson Middle School and the high school. The graduate students will serve as counselors to the students, staff and families on a referral basis.

“I think this is going to be critical in helping a larger population of our students. We often see the same students frequently so it will be easy for us to judge which students to refer and having them have that consistent service could alleviate the constant need to miss class to see the social worker or counselor,” said Kellie Irwin who’s one of the district’s school social workers.

Those referrals are already coming in as this unique program is being built from the ground up with plans to grow into every school in the district. While it’s not clear what it will be like 100 percent, there are plans for group and one-on-one sessions as well as room to mold it to the need.

“Talking about it, presenting it, bringing light to and saying hey we have this clinic it’s okay for you to get counseling will hopefully break those barriers and that’s one of the purposes behind the program is to really in your lower-income communities break the stigma in mental health support,” said Dr. Pamela White who’s the Woodland Hills Assistant Superintendent.

The grant is for five years so by next year, the goal is to have a clinic in each district building. It is important to note nothing will go through insurance so that helps to break some of the financial barriers for these families too.

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