Recent school shootings and other acts of violence have increased calls for administrators to focus on identifying and providing access to treatment for students with conditions like depression and bipolar disorder. Many communities see it as the school's responsibility to provide services to those children most vulnerable to becoming aggressive and disruptive.
A 2015 report by the Child Mind Institute found that anxiety disorders — generalized anxiety, social anxiety, panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, separation anxiety disorder, or specific phobias — are the most prevalent psychiatric illnesses in children. But 80 percent of children with clinical-level anxiety do not receive treatment, the report found.
Barriers to mental healthcare for families include the cost of services, long waiting lists at almost all agencies, and problems arranging transportation. Stigma and rampant misconceptions about mental health issues also keep families from treatment.
Duval County Public Schools in Jacksonville, Florida, is one school district that has addressed community concerns by placing therapists in schools. District superintendent Nikolai Vitti said that, in addition to providing counseling within the buildings, the program has increased referrals to mental health professionals in the community. It makes sense to provide mental health services at school "because you have a captive audience, you have a consistency in attendance, and you have a level of trust and observation to identify the problem [and] then service the child there and work through the child's challenges there," Vitti told the Florida Times Union.
While the approach seems sensible, some worry about potential downsides. Many clinicians are concerned that school personnel have insufficient expertise in identifying psychiatric problems other than those related to learning and behavioral difficulties. Some parents are uneasy about the possibility that schools will be hesitant to identify a serious mental health problem for fear that it will then be required to provide special services. As always, any innovative program that provides a new way to approach mental health care is going to meet healthy skepticism and concerns about unintended consequences.
One of the interesting challenges we've noticed about school-based services is that they are often billed in ways that are complex and idiosyncratic. For example, some of these programs are funded through grants, others through Medicaid, while still others are self-pay or billed to the school district.
Most EHRs can't handle the level of customization that these situations require. But ClinicTracker is so sophisticated in its ability to customize and automate processes that it has no problem managing billing for these kinds of services. As a matter of fact, our software already has billing configurations that we designed for a variety of school-based programs. ClinicTracker's specialized formats allow for grant funding, billing Medicaid, patient self-pay, and billing the school district.
ClinicTracker is a robust, future-proof mental health and substance abuse EHR. Dr. Michael Gordon, a renowned clinical psychologist, and Joshua Gordon, an award-winning software engineer, founded the company in 2000. ClinicTracker EHR’s powerful software empowers your agency to succeed. ClinicTracker will automate all of your clinic routines, boost staff productivity, increase billing efficiency, and provide the tools you need to manage your clinic effectively. While mental health and substance abuse agencies are the most common group of users, foster care agencies, social services, equine assisted therapy programs, university clinics, academic counseling systems, family counseling services, and eating disorder clinics also take advantage of our powerful software.