Back to School
Alaska’s children are heading back to school this month and getting back into regular routines. For many, that also means an increase in stress and anxiety. Parents and teachers may notice behavioral issues or symptoms of depression and other mental health struggles that flew under the radar during the summer.
Alaska Behavioral Health supports students in several ways, with in-person, on-site therapists available at some schools in both Anchorage and Fairbanks, and skill development support available in classrooms for students who qualify. Our school-based clinicians are excited to get back to school to support students they worked with last year – and meet new ones.
Mike Adams, a clinician at Begich Middle School in Anchorage, says he’s “excited about helping others create change and life-long knowledge of their emotional health and healing.” At Bettye Davis East High School, Veronica Griffith is looking forward to seeing students individually again. She’s also hoping to work with school counselors to set up lunchtime groups focusing on identity and self-esteem.
In Fairbanks, therapist Jesse Barrett especially looks forward to watching one student thrive this school year. “He had a very rough time at school last year, but I…and he are very optimistic about this school year. He worked very hard over the summer and seems to have experienced significant healing and growth!”
Intensive Short-term Treatment for Children
In Anchorage, our new children’s Partial Hospitalization Program is an intensive program for kids ages 9-11 who need to focus on their mental health. The program is designed to be short-term, so students don’t miss a lot of classroom time. In addition, an Anchorage School District teacher spends two hours each day helping students in the program keep up with their schoolwork – for a smoother transition back to school after completing the program. Clinical manager Marissa Hanson, LCSW, says: “We believe this is program is unique in Alaska, in offering intensive treatment services with school-work incorporated into the day. The students in this program need this short-term focus on their mental health but going back to school afterward behind on their schoolwork is a stressor we can help them avoid.”
Help is Available
If you are seeing signs* that your child is struggling this school year and needs some extra support, please reach out to your school counselor, or give us a call: 907-561-0954 in Anchorage or 907-371-1300 in Fairbanks.
*Signs to watch for:
- Persistent sadness that lasts two weeks or more
- Withdrawing from or avoiding social interactions
- Hurting oneself or talking about hurting oneself
- Talking about death or suicide
- Outbursts or extreme irritability
- Out-of-control behavior that can be harmful
- Drastic changes in mood, behavior or personality
- Changes in eating habits
- Loss of weight
- Difficulty sleeping
- Frequent headaches or stomachaches
- Difficulty concentrating
- Changes in academic performance
- Avoiding or missing school