Through new agreement, Lawrence school district students can receive ongoing mental health services with Bert Nash

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Lawrence school board members on Monday approved a new agreement between the district and Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center that will allow students to receive ongoing care, if needed.

The district in recent years has partnered with Bert Nash to support the WRAP Program, which stands for Wellness, Resources, Access and Prevention (previously “Working to Recognize Alternative Possibilities”). Bert Nash provides the district with therapists and case managers to partner with students and their families in schools. 

Kiley Luckett, the district’s mental health coordinator, said WRAP therapists currently do general check-ins with students in the program, where they discuss day-to-day struggles and short-term solutions. 

Instead of that approach, the new approved memorandum of understanding will enforce a more “focused and direct” model where therapists can work with students on goals and treatment plans, Luckett said.

“We’re actually getting to where we can treat the underlying causes and not kind of just bandaid by, ‘OK, we’re talking about it now, and then we’ll be talking about the same thing next time that it happens,’ but really getting those therapeutic tools built,” Luckett said.

The change is in response to an identified surge in mental health needs across the district.

Moving forward, students can choose to become Bert Nash clients if they need additional support after having three sessions with WRAP therapists. Students and their families who go that route will be required to enter Bert Nash’s onboarding process. They’ll then start to be billed.

Annas Boyer, Bert Nash’s director of school-based services, said it’s rare for students to not qualify for Medicaid support. But if for some reason they don’t, Bert Nash has sliding scale pay and can help families find additional financial support or connect them with other services in Lawrence.

“The goal isn’t for us to come in and bill,” Boyer said. “It’s just how we are now supporting the services. And we are not the only therapists in town, so if students don’t want to work with Bert Nash, we’re not going to tell them we’re the only option they have. We will refer them to other places or we’ll make sure that they have a good fit.”

See the MOU as well as a joint statement between the district and Bert Nash attached to the agenda item on BoardDocs.

The board also approved new class and credit requirements for high schoolers to graduate. Read more about that at this link.

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Maya Hodison (she/her), equity reporter, can be reached at mhodison (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com. Read more of her work for the Times here. Check out her staff bio here.

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Kaw Valley Almanac for April 22-28, 2024

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