Missoula County Public Schools will be losing some mental health counselors at the end of this semester and will have to make adjustments to support the affected students.
"I'm told it's about not making money I'm told it's about productivity. And I think that if you are in the mental health business you gotta be there for the kids. Even when financially it doesn’t make a lot of sense," CSCT Therapist Colin Roberts said.
Western Montana Mental Health Comprehensive School and Community Treatment (CSCT) counselor Colin Roberts says he currently works with around 20 high school students and there is a waitlist of kids who could also use attention. Roberts says the news can be especially devastating during a pandemic.
"What I would say is that for everyone in this pandemic it’s a new way of life. I would say that almost everyone would qualify for an adjustment disorder. So what that means is a typical well-adjusted no previous mental health needs human can experience mental health symptoms due to how impactful the pandemic has been on their life," Roberts added.
MCPS is now left without a portion of their mental health support system, something Superintendent Rob Watson says will force the current school staff to pick up the load.
"In our school district like any other school district, we employ school counselors school psychologists but those folks are also very busy with large caseloads and so this will likely mean that they will have to pick up some of those services that are not necessarily being done by Western Montana Mental Health," Watson said.
He added that those psychologists and counselors will continue developing online or telehealth ways to increase their services as much as possible, but there is only so much they can do.
"So we are going to have to just keep doing that and increase as much as we can," Watson said. But I just don’t want to discount the fact that this will mean likely fewer services for some of our students," Watson added.
Watson says they will reach out to other service providers but most are funded in the same way so if WMHC cannot monetarily support these services it's likely others couldn’t either.