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Mesa Public Schools partners with local behavioral health provider, offering on-campus therapy

By Bridget Dowd
Published: Tuesday, January 16, 2024 - 6:05am

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Mesa Public Schools
Mariana Dale/KJZZ
Mesa Public Schools is the largest district in the state.

A behavioral health provider will soon offer on-campus counseling services to students at two Mesa elementary schools. 

The governing board for Mesa Public Schools has approved a contract with Free Life Wellness Center.

The contract establishes a year of services at Field Elementary School and Porter Elementary School with the option of five more annual renewals.

Associate Superintendent Holly Williams said students will be referred for these services after the school has already exhausted its own resources.

“We work very hard with our counselor, our social workers, behavioral specialists that we have in the district to do everything we can to support the student," she said. "The students who are referred to these mental health partners are those who need that extra level of support. Tier 3 is what we say.”

Tier 3 students are those with identified mental-health disorders that limit participation and functioning throughout the school day. 

Free Life will be responsible for billing and collecting payments from families, just like any outside therapist, but having a provider on campus will reduce the amount of time students are out of class and get them into therapy faster.

“When we send them out and say ‘seek them on your own,’ sometimes it’s up to four to six months before someone can access it, for someone who has insurance," Williams said. "For someone who has no insurance or is underinsured, it’s longer.”

She said partnering with the wellness center will get students services as quickly as two weeks. 

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