Rural school district, Gundersen join to provide mental health resources to students

HILLSBORO, Wis. (WKBT)- Some families in rural communities have to travel more than an hour just to find the right mental health resource.

A program involving the Hillsboro School District and Gundersen St. Joseph Hospitals and Clinics in Hillsboro brings the resources to the school at zero cost.

Hillsboro school leaders recognized that their students needed more access to mental health resources.

“The program started because of a general lack of services that we were seeing in our area. We knew that there were some mental health needs for our students that weren’t being met because of our location,” said Hillsboro instructional coach Linda Bisarek.

Down the street, Gundersen St. Joseph wanted to help.

Those inclinations led to the School-Based Behavioral Health Program, a way to help students and grow the number of local behavioral health services.

“This program utilizes individuals who completed a master’s in social work who want to become licensed therapists. They have to complete 3,000 hours of clinically supervised service before they can obtain their license,” said St. Joseph Gundersen Administrator Kristie McCoic.

A unique benefit to this program is that the families don’t pay a dime.

“It’s not a moneymaker it’s not meant to be, but that way the parents consent to the treatment, and the treatment is covered no matter the insurance there’s no cost to the families,” said McCoic.

The program is available to all students K-12, and Hillsboro leaders say all school districts should consider it.

“If we can encourage other schools to dive into this, if one more kid, if one more parent, if anyone sees that, wait, there is a better way to do this, there’s hope if you’re not okay,” Bisarek said.

It’s a small-town solution to a problem that stretches across the country.

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