School Mental Services Expands in Tennessee

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HAMILTON COUNTY, Tenn. (WDEF)- The Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services is expanding its mental health services for students and teachers to every county.

The Helen Ross McNabb Center provided mental health and therapeutic services to Hamilton County schools for over 3 years.

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Now, thanks to a 3 million dollar expansion approved by Governor Bill Lee, the McNabb Center will serve Bradley, McMinn, and Meigs’ school districts.

The mental health center focuses on the psychiatric support to both students and teachers.

“We’re also able to do what we call teacher coaching, which is listening to the teacher’s challenges that they’re facing in the classroom and offering some suggestions and resources” says Senior Director Gayle Lodato.

Lodato says with the challenges Covid-19 has given this school year, it’s important to alleviate the stress therapeutically, “We also want to break down any barriers that anyone is experiencing and accessing care and support. So, by bringing the services to the school, they don’t have to miss additional academic instruction time.”

Lodato believes the McNabb Center’s staff is capable assisting children of all ages when they deal they are dealing with trauma.

“It might be something that’s a chronic situation that they may benefit from having weekly therapy sessions with one of our liaisons. It could be a training or group that we provide to the students.”

The center recently opened a therapeutic preschool in Hamilton County. It’s an intensive outpatient program for children ages four to six who are suffering from traumatic experiences in their lives.

“In order for them to have a safe place to process the trauma, learn to identify their feelings and build coping skills.”