GARDNER EDGERTON DISTRICT ADDING MENTAL HEALTH RESPONDER
The Gardner Edgerton School District has agreed to embed a full-time mental health co-responder in the school system during the upcoming academic year, providing immediate help to students during crisis situations.
Clinical co-responders already are available to most police agencies in the county, but Gardner Edgerton is the first school district to adopt the program. The co-responder will work in the school district, but will be a full-time employee of Johnson County Mental Health Center.
Johnson County has agreed to fund the remaining cost of the co-responder for 2019-20. The program will be evaluated during one year trial period, with the potential to expand to other school districts in Johnson County.
“We are pleased to be able to partner with a school district in this way,” said Johnson County Mental Health Center Director Tim DeWeese, “It takes the community working together to end the stigma and start the necessary conversations about mental health in teens and adolescents.”
After an uptick in teen suicide, the county’s six school superintendents have been brainstorming ways to meet the emotional needs of students. One result was an awareness campaign launched last fall called “Zero Reasons Why.”
“We are excited to be able to offer this support and service to our students and their families and our staff members,” said Gardner Edgerton Superintendent Pam Stranathan. We are thankful for the relationship that has been developed between USD 231 and Johnson County Mental Health Center. By partnering together, we are better able to meet the needs of our community.”
The co-responder program began in 2011 as a pilot with the Olathe Police Department.