Fort Bend ISD opens 8 mental health centers on school campuses as students return from winter break

Image description
Using money from a $1.5 million grant, Fort Bend ISD has opened mental health centers at eight schools in the Hightower, Marshall and Willowridge feeder patterns as of Jan. 10.

Steve Shiels, FBISD's director of behavioral health and wellness, said the grant will help the district cover the startup costs associated with the mental health clinics as well as funding some of the therapeutic services.

“The driving force behind the [grant] application was the growing mental health needs of our students, families, and even staff,” Shiels said in an email. “We wanted to remove the barriers of money, travel and even time for our families by providing therapeutic services and support on campus where students spend a majority of their days.”

All FBISD staff, students and parents who have been victims of a crime, including domestic violence; victims of bullying; witnesses to a crime; or affected by crime can access the counseling services provided at the clinics at no cost. Other individuals can use Medicaid or private health insurance to pay for the services.

“The primary objective and mission of the school-based mental health centers are to remove barriers, such as time, money, and transportation, for students and their families to receive high quality counseling and therapeutic services,” Shiels said in an email. “While counseling outside of school will remain a good fit for some families, the campus-based centers will ensure consistent and quality services convenient for all families and for those in most need.”

The grant was awarded under the 1984 federal Victims of Crime Act. That law established a Crime Victim’s Fund and allows for state and local service providers to apply for grants in order to fund their services. Shiels said FBISD plans to reapply annually and look for additional funding opportunities in order to continually fund the mental health centers.

At a board of trustees meeting Oct. 21, FBISD announced the receipt of the grant, and several trustees, including Kristin Tassin, voiced their excitement. Tassin said in the 5 1/2 years she has been on the board they have talked about wanting mental health and behavior specialists on campuses.

“I think these mental health clinics are the start of that,” Tassin said. “And I think it’s going to make a huge difference, not just in the lives of our kids, but really for our teachers and staff members who don’t know what to do.”

Shiels said the idea for the clinics was inspired by an August 2018 trip to Austin where state Rep. Rick Miller, R-Sugar Land, showed FBISD staff Austin ISD’s VCA-funded centers. Like AISD’s clinics, FBISD’s will be staffed by Vida Clinic mental health professionals.

The eight clinics are located at Hightower High School, Marshall High School, Willowridge High School, Lake Olympia Middle School, Christa McAuliffe Middle School, Missouri City Middle School, Rosa Parks Elementary School and Briargate Elementary School. They are open to anyone in the district, regardless of whether they work at or attend that specific school.

Shiels said these campuses were chosen based on data such as attendance and discipline referrals; the results of the Pride survey, which tracks self-reported data including drug and alcohol use, feelings of safety on campus and mental health concerns; and the number of suicide risk assessments at each campus.
“Like with physical health, providing for students’ mental health needs is important in establishing good academic habits and developing attributes associated with the District’s Profile of a Graduate,” Shiels said in an email. “Most importantly, is the district’s commitment to support the whole child with health development through this initiative.”
By Claire Shoop

Claire joined Community Impact Newspaper in September 2019 as the reporter for the Sugar Land/Missouri City edition. She graduated from The University of Texas at Austin in May 2019 where she studied journalism, government and Arabic. While in school, Claire was a fellow for The Texas Tribune, worked for the student newspaper, The Daily Texan, and spent a semester in Washington, D.C. She enjoys playing cards with her family and listening to the Boss, Bruce Springsteen.


The employees of The Adventure Begins Comics, Games & More gather their characters together in "Animal Crossing: New Horizons." (Kate Looney/The Adventure Begins Comics, Games & More)
5 recent business stories from the Houston area readers should know

Read updates on how local businesses are reacting in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Prices are more of an indicator of real estate activity during the coronavirus pandemic than location or geography, a local Realtor said.
Q&A: Houston-area Realtor describes changes in business during coronavirus outbreak

Prices are more of an indicator of real estate activity during the coronavirus pandemic than location or geography, a local Realtor said.

This is a test kit for COVID-19 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (Courtesy National Institutes of Health)
UT Physicians opens coronavirus testing location in Missouri City

Individuals must have an order from their health care provider and call to make an appointment before arriving for testing.

Many renters in the Greater Houston area may be faced with struggles paying rent amid the coronavirus outbreak. There are local resources located throughout the region that can help. (Courtesy Pexels)
Struggling to pay April rent? Here are some resources in the Greater Houston area

The deadline for April rent is looming as renters—both in public and private housing—in the Greater Houston area may be struggling financially in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.

President Donald Trump signed a $2 trillion package March 27 to provide relief during the coronavirus pandemic. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Sen. John Cornyn discusses provisions laid out in CARES Act

The $2 trillion package provides funding to help fight the virus and to provide financial assistance for Americans during the pandemic.

Initial claims for unemployment insurance rates are increasing across the nation in the midst of COVID-19. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Texas sees 77% increase in unemployment insurance claims during week ending March 28

Texas ranked fifth among states in the U.S. with 275,597 initial claims filed the week ending March 28.

Precinct 4, which encompasses most of Sugar Land, is reporting the highest percentage of confirmed Fort Bend County cases. (Community Impact staff)
MAP: Where are confirmed coronavirus cases located in Fort Bend County?

Precinct 4, which encompasses most of Sugar Land, is reporting the highest percentage of confirmed Fort Bend County cases.

Here is what to know about rent, mortgages and utility bills during the coronavirus. (Courtesy Fotolia)
FAQ: Paying bills in the time of coronavirus

What to know about rent, mortgages and utility bills during the coronavirus

About 97% of Fort Bend County's survey respondents answered they are washing their hands more frequently to be more prepared for the coronavirus. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Survey: 53% of Fort Bend County residents feel stay-home order is enough to keep county safe

The survey also examined the effect the order is having on households' finances and respondents’ abilities to work.

Constellation Field began collecting personal protective equipment donations April 1. (Courtesy Sugar Land Skeeters)
Constellation Field in Sugar Land opens as a donation location for personal protective equipment

The Sugar Land Skeeters stadium will be collecting donations 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday.

Texas Tribune: Some local elections in Texas moving ahead despite coronavirus spread

A handful of towns and special districts still plan to go ahead with their May 2 votes, arranging polling places despite calls from the president on down directing people to stay at home to prevent the spread of the deadly virus.

Lake Travis Fire Rescue is one of hundreds of emergency service districts serving millions of Texas residents across the state. Firefighters, EMTs and medical professionals said they are concerned about the availability of personal protective equipment as the coronavirus public health crisis continues. (Brian Rash/Community Impact Newspaper)
First responders, medical professionals across Texas worry about inadequate personal protective equipment supplies

In a survey of emergency service districts across the state, two-thirds of respondents said they were concerned about a shortage of equipment such as masks, goggles and gloves.