On-campus counselors help provide support for children struggling with self-harm, suicidal thoughts, and more. | KSNF/KODE

CARL JUNCTION, Mo. (KSNF) – When children are struggling emotionally, an onsite counselor at school aims to help them through whatever they are going through.

Will’s Place at Carl Junction is one of several therapy offices on campus in southwest Missouri.

A 2020 survey of Missouri students showed revealing statistics about substance use and negative thoughts among middle and high school students.

“The survey that just came out…I think the high numbers for grades 6 through 8 are what people are most concerned about,” says Adrienne Devine, LPC, CJ Will’s Place Therapist.

Local mental health professionals have implemented programs to help reduce these statistics, including the addition of on-campus counselors.

“They’ve taken so many steps to have a wider variety of support available,” says Devine.

An on-site therapist means students don’t have to be moved around and fit therapy between so many other activities and parents’ work schedules.

Devine explains, “They can come for therapy during their school day and transportation is not an issue and they can get back to their school day pretty quickly.”

Typically, at Carl Junction for example, counselors will see students or clients every two weeks, although some students may require more frequent visits.

“Maybe suicidality has increased or thoughts of self-harm have increased, we’re going to run into those more than once a week,” Devine says.

Also, the need is there, depending on what the students are seen for.

Devine says they visit his office for “anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts, self-harm, thoughts of self-harm, history of trauma, bullying, online bullying, in-person bullying.”

The process helps normalize talking about how they are feeling and going through.

“Talking about emotions, talking about difficult things, so they know we’re someone they can go to to talk about those things,” says Devine.

Counselors encourage keeping the lines of communication open as one of the best things a parent can do.

Devine says, “If you suspect your child is more apathetic, or desperate, or making these dangerous choices, contact us, call us, we’re in the schools, your school counselors are available, find a therapist who going to feel like a good fit for you.

If you know someone who is considering self-harm or if you are considering it yourself, we encourage you to call the Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

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