GRAND HAVEN, Mich. (WOOD) — The American School Counselor Association found recently that Michigan ranked second-worst in the United States in its student-to-school-counselor ratio.
This poses a huge challenge as more children and teens than ever are reaching out for mental health help.
For more than a decade, Mosaic Counseling has been bringing its therapists to the kids right where they spend so much of their time — school.
Executive director at Mosaic Counseling Sarah Lewakowski said they realized things like money, transportation and even the culture inside a home were holding kids back from receiving the help they needed.
Mosaic is currently in 24 schools in several districts in Ottawa County, with eyes on expanding into Kent County soon. Lewakowski said the program isn’t meant to replace the counselors and social workers already in schools, but rather supplement them by offering more extensive counseling than the school can provide.
Lewakowski said there are days when it feels like the phone is ringing off the hook. She said it’s a time of big growth for Mosaic as they have 120 therapists and are trying to add one new therapist per week.
“If they reach out their hand, someone needs to grab it. You can’t say, ‘we’ll see you in two months’ or ‘we’ll put you on a wait list.’ Mental health just doesn’t work that way,” said Lewakowski.
Some of the schools pay Mosaic for the therapy sessions they provide to students, but the kids are receiving the counseling for free.
Mosaic is on track to see over 500 kids through the school outreach program this year. Lewakowski said more and more kids and teens are reaching out on their own for help.
She suggests parents and teenagers program the number 741741 into their phones. The number connects people with crisis counselors 24 hours a day, 7 days a week through a text, the preferred method of communication for many teens.