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Hispanic And Black Students Find Valuable Help At School-Based Mental Health Centers

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Once a week, every week, the health center at Stamford High School offers sophomore Roger Sanchez an oasis—someplace he can talk to a trusted adult about life’s pressures and problems, a place he feels free and unjudged.

School work, sports commitments, family and social obligations: life as a teenager can be stressful, he says. If it weren’t for the health center, conveniently located where he spends most of his days, he would have a much harder time accessing counseling sessions that help him cope with anxiety.

“The health center helps me out academically, emotionally and physically,” he said, and he recommends it to friends. “They get nervous, kind of, but I try my best to get them to come in. They never regret it.”

Sanchez, 16, is among a growing number of black and Hispanic teens receiving mental health services at school-based health centers—services, data show, they’d be much less likely to get or stick with if they pursued them elsewhere in their communities.

“For many students, this is the primary place where they get their care,” said Jesse White-Fresé, executive director of the Connecticut Association of School Based Health Centers.

For the 2007-08 and 2008-09 school years, 1,130 black and Hispanic males in grades seven through 12 received mental health services, data collected from 75 state-funded health centers show. Those youths registered 15,386 visits over the two-year period, the association’s issue brief reports.

White-Fresé suspects the number of males served is higher than reported since the data includes only students whose parents agreed to disclose ethnicity during enrollment.

While students seek services for various reasons, research shows black and Hispanic students are more likely than their white peers to experience depression in particular.

In 2015, 36 percent of Hispanic high schools students and 27.3 percent of black students reported feeling so sad or hopeless every day for two or more weeks that they stopped doing some of their usual activities, according to the state Department of Public Health’s 2015 Connecticut Youth Risk Behavior Survey. By comparison, 22.6 percent of white students answered the same.

To read the complete story:  http://c-hit.org/2018/05/21/school-based-mental-health-centers-play-vital-role-for-hispanic-and-black-students/

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