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'We forget about our littles': Mental health help for BA's youngest students

Mental health support offered to Broken Arrow’s youngest students
Posted at 4:27 PM, Jul 10, 2024

BROKEN ARROW, Okla. — Mental health support will soon be offered to Broken Arrow’s youngest students.

The district partnered with GRAND Mental Health to make it happen.

The Embrey family was soaking up the summer at the splash pad in Broken Arrow when we asked them about the new program.

With four students at Broken Arrow Schools, Chelsie Embrey said the new school year is top of mind.

She was interested to learn about the new partnership with GRAND Mental Health.
“Whatever they can do to help the kids and the teachers and the staff at the schools, I’m all for it,” said Chelsie Embrey.

GRAND Mental Health will provide in-school behavioral and mental health support for three early childhood centers, three elementary schools, and one middle school.

A behavioral health coach and a therapist will be at each school, identifying early signs of any behavioral health challenges.

“That’s where you reach families,” said Kelsee McCutchen. “It’s in the schools.”

Kelsey McCutchen, Clinical Director at Grand Mental Health in Tulsa, said the partnership will provide better access to mental health support, especially for the hundreds of youngest students who may be socializing for the first time.

“We forget about our littles,” said McCutchen. “Our littles also struggle, too. They struggle with anxiety. They struggle with maybe feeling sad.”

GRAND Mental Health has the same partnership with Tulsa Public Schools, with staff members embedded at 11 schools in that district. They said they’ve seen a big difference, with schools feeling more supported.
“They know that they don’t have to be the ones managing behaviors,” said McCuthchen. “They have a team of professionals.”

Broken Arrow district leaders, like Executive Director of Educational Programming Sharon James, said the support for both students and teachers makes this partnership a win-win.

“They know how to teach classroom, and they know how to engage students, but some students are just struggling,” said Sharon James. “Their needs are just a little bit more than the educator is used to dealing with.”

Parents, like Embrey, said they’re glad GRAND staff members will be embedded in the schools.

“As parents we can’t always be there with them to assess that with the kids and stuff, so I think it’ll be helpful for the teachers to be able to get some reinforcements from them,” she said.

Teresa Bowker, Director of Early Childhood and Parent Engagement with BAPS, said GRAND staff members will be able to help bridge the gap between the classroom and home.

“It’s going to be that continuity of care,” said Bowker. “Like we’re doing this at school, can you continue with that at home?”

The partnership will start in August. Broken Arrow parents interested in participating in the program can contact their school for more information or contact GRAND Mental Health through the referral section on their website.

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