Mental health platform sees hundreds of referrals from DCPS this school year

The News4JAX I-TEAM is continuing to follow up on an investigation into school fights in Duval County Public Schools and what the district is doing to address and prevent violence.

The district logged more than 500 fights on school campuses and buses last school year.

DCPS data shows there were 196 fights logged in the first 60 days of last school year. During that same time period this school year, there were 198 fights.

The district told the I-TEAM they are taking several steps to keep schools safe, including providing mental telehealth services offered through their partnership with Hazel Health.

“We’re very solution focused,” said Paris Corredera Carroll, who is the VP of Mental Health Clinical Services at Hazel Health, which partners with 150 school districts across the country to provide virtual mental health services. She said when it comes to a student who’s gotten into a fight, a mental health professional can help find out what may be fueling it.

“A lot of these behaviors just come from what that student might be experiencing or feeling emotionally…and not quite sure what to do with it,” she said.

She said a counselor can help kids find better outlets for their emotions, like the arts or writing.

According to Hazel Health, Duval County had about 1,700 referrals last year with about 3,400 visits. So far this school year, they’ve had about 400 referrals and 700 visits.

“I would say two of our main, you know, reasons for referral are often anxiety and depression,” Carroll said.

She said Hazel health’s telehealth counseling sessions don’t cost students’ anything, regardless of whether they’re referred by a school counselor or if it’s the family of a student who initiates the mental health services.

DCPS has other resources available, too. A district spokesperson said their “Stop the Violence” grant initiative provides training opportunities for educators that includes violence prevention and intervention strategies.

“Through our long-running Student Option for Success program, we work together with families and students – who have been involved in fighting – to learn impulse-control, self-regulation measures, and alternatives to fighting. This approach, along with our continued expansion of mental health services through our Hazel Health Partnership, helps us get to the root of bad choices that lead to fighting,” a spokesperson said. “Our goal is to continue to cultivate a culture of safety in all our schools so that students can learn and achieve academically to their fullest potential.”

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