Texting program offering real-time mental health resources lands in rural schools in southern Utah, Arizona – St George News
ST. GEORGE- A text-based program designed to promote positive well-being and monitor young people who need help has found its way into the hands of many rural students.
Through a partnership with the Southwest Behavioral Health Center and the Prevention Coalition, this text-based curriculum can be found at middle and high schools across southern Utah and the Arizona strip that have enrolled in the program.
SchoolPulse CEO Colby Jenkins said the text-based software company offers social, emotional and positive psychology strategies to students, parents and teachers through texts intended to help students feel more connected and positive.
“We have rural areas that have very limited mental health resources, and now there’s a demand in those communities,” Jenkins said. “Our service provides mental health support anywhere as long as there is a cell signal and they have a smartphone, they have access to support through SchoolPulse.”
SchoolPulse is backed by a team of licensed professionals and paraprofessionals to provide live, enthusiastic support, Jenkins said. Schools enrolled in the program include those in Hildale and Colorado City, particularly El Capitan, Water Canyon, Masada Charter and Centennial Academy, he added.
Prevention Coalition coordinator Rowdy Reeve said the SchoolPulse program is aligned with its action plan and can use part of its grants to make the program free for students and schools.
“This program helps students overcome the fear of stigma that sometimes attaches to mental health,” Reeve said. “It can be scary for a student to admit they may be having a mental health crisis and even scarier to walk in to see a counselor. I think the SchoolPulse program can help eliminate this fear by addressing the student first. »
The program is also designed to cater to students’ comfort level with technology, he added.
Students in grades 6-12 who are enrolled will receive text messages three times a week with positive messages and opportunities to text back. To interact with SchoolPulse, the student scans a QR code unique to their school which registers them in the text system. Jenkins said students don’t need to download anything, and SchoolPulse isn’t an app that requires students to remember login credentials.
“They don’t have usernames and there are no barriers because of the QR code,” Jenkins said. “They get their first text and he welcomes them to SchoolPulse. And part of the welcome information tells them they can anonymously respond to text messages from mental health experts. And we know which school the student is from because they access this unique QR code.
The company provides schools with posters with a personalized QR code that students can take a picture with their mobile phone. The schools also presented the program with the code during their assemblies and welcome information to the students.
“Our mental health experts respond to students in real time,” Jenkins said. “We are not automated robots. Students communicate with us anonymously. Once they sign up, students want to share what they’re struggling with and want a warm, gentle, kind, and loving response. »
SchoolPulse allows school administration to take the pulse of their student body while protecting privacy. And the schools will each have a dashboard for analysis. According to the company’s website, schools will get actionable data that takes the guesswork out of their students’ well-being. These schools will gain data that can be used to see patterns, evaluate current efforts, and inform future interventions.
“So we know which school the student is from because they’re accessing that unique QR code,” Jenkins said. “But we don’t know who they are.”
The company has found that most students want to be heard and express their feelings. In the event that a student poses an immediate threat, the program asks the student to reveal who they are so they can get help. Jenkins said if the student shares their identity, SchoolPulse stays on the phone with them until they are on the doorstep of a professional where the student can speak in person.
“Our ultimate goal is to connect with students, nurture them, and direct them to a trusted adult they can meet,” Jenkins said. “And hopefully it’s a parent or a school counselor, someone they can meet and have that connection in person.”
Mental health experts also send follow-up text messages. SchoolPulse is response to intervention, social and emotional learning, and Positive behavioral interventions and supports platform, Jenkins said.
“We want to ease this mental health burden on schools and help slow the spiral of students who may be suffering in silence,” he said. “We provide proactive and positive insights to the educator so they can adjust their engagement based on the trends they see.”
Student response has already been strong at Water Canyon High School, Wendee Wilkinson, the school’s senior counselor, told St. George News in an email.
“We just launched SchoolPulse at our school, and about a third of students have signed up so far,” she wrote. “I think it will be a great positive resource for our students. I like that they check in on the students periodically. It will be interesting to see how our students enjoy and use it!
Currently, schools across the country in 18 states and over 100,000 students have enrolled in SchoolPulse. The St. George Company was co-founded by licensed therapist Iuri Melo and software engineer Trent Staheli in 2017.
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