Bay District Schools continues to discuss students' mental health

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BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - More than a month into the new school year, the School Health Advisory Committee held its first quarterly meeting Wednesday morning; on the agenda, discussing the changes Bay District Schools has made to ensure students' wellbeing.

Health services are available to every student, even those without insurance. (WJHG/WECP)

"[Hurricane] Michael gets a lot of credit for creating some problems, but [it] also uncovered some problems that have been there for a long time," said Director of Telehealth for PanCare, Eddie Clifton.

Parents, educators, and PanCare officials discussed the progress they've seen in Bay District students' health and wellbeing.

"The fact that we are still in recovery mode as a community, continues to impact our students, for health, for mental health. So, we really just want to make sure we have options in the schools that offer different options and models for quality healthcare and services for our students," said Bay District Schools Director of Student Services, Kara Mulkusky.

One of the main discussion points at the SHAC meeting--the implementation of the new Telehealth service, now in 17 Bay District schools.

"The barriers: financial, transportation, lack of providers, there's many things that stop parents from being able to get good quality health care for their children. So, our initiative is to bring that healthcare to them," said Clifton.

The two-way, audio-video conferencing system allows students to check in with a doctor without having to leave the building. Pancare introduced it back in April.

"It's been a very good response overall, one of the things that is the most encouraging as far as the numbers that I look at, is here in Bay District we have about an 83% return to classroom rate," said Clifton.

"We have been able to hire licensed mental health counselors, social workers, and some care coordinators to basically help expedite services and support for our students and families," said Mulkusky.

Both services are available to every student, even those without insurance.

"We just want to make sure no one has a barrier to quality services," said Mulkusky.

The next SHAC meeting is scheduled for November 20.

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