St. Johns students getting help shows need for mental health services

School district says 852 students received help in just 3 months

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – In the first three months of this school year, 852  St. Johns County students received services from the school district's mental health counselors.

That number may seem high, but clinical psychologist Lynn Wadelton said that seems on track for a district with about 41,000 students.

"I really don’t think we’ve had any major improvement in the culture we live in with mental health for kids, other than the fact that there’s less stigma and people are seeking services more," Wadelton said. "But the stress levels and anxiety levels are still really high."

Wadelton said it is important for students to have access to mental health counselors not only at school but also outside the system.

Susan Sharp, a St. Johns County mother of two, said it’s a team effort. She feels parents need to keep in communication with schools about mental health and, despite additional funding this year, feels more is needed.

"We’re having so much overcrowding that is happening that the teachers and guidance counselors don’t have the time to give each student as much time as they would like to," Sharp said.

From August through October:

  • 89 students were sent to the mobile crisis response team…the step after meeting with a school counselor,  down from 117 last year.
  • 67 students have been Baker-Acted (committed for psychiatric evaluation) – 47 from home and 20 from school.
  • 132 referrals have been made to outside agencies, down from 166 last year.

"Recognize that students are people too, and they’re going to have the same problems that adults had," Wadelton said. "Problems are treatable. That’s a great start and after that, I really think it’s about continuity between a group of professionals so the family needs to be highly involved."

District data also show the number of homeless students and hurricane refugees so far this year compared to last year.

 2017-18 school yearSo far in 2018
Homeless students Hurricane refugees Students in foster care443 92 104499 35 113

If your child needs access to mental health resources in St. Johns County,