Tennessee ranks ninth in the United States in the percentage of children who had a major depressive episode in the last year, but 50th on ensuring these youth receive treatment, according to the Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth.
Through its school-based counseling program, Mercy Community Healthcare is trying to improve this statistic, as well as participate in changing the culture surrounding mental health awareness in schools.
“Mercy is in the schools to provide counseling and mental health support for children who need it. It’s like having a Mercy office right there in the school,” said Dr. Marcy Webb, director of therapeutic school counseling for Mercy Community Healthcare.
“Our counselors are there all week long and all year long. They can coordinate what’s going on with teachers and can see the effect their interventions and strategies are having on the students. We are impacting the culture of the entire school and helping raise everyone’s awareness of what mental health issues are, and what mental health needs look like.”
Proceeds from Mercy’s second-annual Fall Prayer Dinner, “Bringing Mercy and Hope to our Schools,” will go toward the school-based counseling program. The dinner will be held Friday, Nov. 9, from 5:30-8:30 p.m. at St. Philip Catholic Church in downtown Franklin.
With support from the United Way of Williamson County, Mercy piloted an on-site mental and behavioral health program with Williamson County Schools in 2011 that has since expanded to place counselors in 21 schools, and now covers part of the Franklin Special School District and all Marshall County Schools.
“I think it’s really a blessing that we’re able to meet the needs of the students in our community the way that we are,” Webb added. “Just being there as a professional in the school to help provide that support and education, and participate with changing the culture, is really exciting.”
Tickets are $100 per person and are still available at www.mercycommunityhealthcare.org/prayerdinner, or call 615-790-0567 x235.