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Therapy available in Green Country school as youth mental health issues increase

Posted at 5:29 PM, Sep 07, 2023

BROKEN ARROW, Okla. — With mental health issues spiking for children and teens here in Green Country and nationwide, school therapists are working in overdrive to meet the needs of students.

Rebekah Taylor's office is what you'd expect out of a therapy office. There's a computer, books, and a cuddly six-month-old therapy dog named Jack. The Daybreak Family Service's Executive Director knows her bread and butter is in the schools.

"We are also embedded in the Bixby Public Schools, Sand Springs Public Schools, and we serve some schools in Sapulpa," Taylor said.

That means therapists work for Daybreak Family Services but have offices in the schools.

Like 'Ms. Michaella', who's stationed at Oliver Middle School. Step into her office, and students will immediately recognize that it's colorful, calming, and welcoming.

Taylor says student referrals come from teachers or school counselors - separate from therapists – and get approved by parents. Services can occur during school or before and after – even summer breaks.

Whenever there's a crisis situation – like a student suicide – extra therapists from other sites will be called in. No appointments are needed.

"They'll set up an area where the therapist can be, and normally Family and Children's Services, too," Taylor said. "There's a plethora of people there to help any kids that come in."

Times have changed. Taylor says kids and teens are more open to therapy, and the stigma is fading.

"There are a lot (clients) at the middle and high school level. Our middle schools – our therapists fill up their caseloads the quickest," Taylor said.

According to a 2021 study by the CDC, more than 43 percent of Oklahoma high school students said they felt sad or hopeless almost every day for two weeks. Twenty-three percent said they have seriously considered attempting suicide.

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