Stamford High School Health Center Is A Model For Student Health
They say that high school are some of the hardest years of your life. It’s a necessary gateway to becoming a fully-fledged adult, but you have to keep up with your peers, your studies, learn how to fend for yourself, maybe get a car, a job, all while planning for your future. That’s why it’s been an important innovation to have health centers in school like the one in Stamford High School.
In a report that was published under a partnership between the Connecticut Post and the Connecticut Health I-Team (C-HIT), they talk with Stamford High School sophomore Roger Sanchez who calls the health center at his school an oasis. “The health center helps me out academically, emotionally, and physically,” he said, and even recommends the program to friends.
These health centers become important, especially for minority students, primarily because they are available. Unlike a regular doctor’s appointment, where one has to be fit in against a rigid schedule, help can be found right where the student is all day. Per the CTPost/C-HIT report, data shows that a black or Hispanic teen would be “much less likely to get or stick with [mental health services] if they pursued them elsewhere in their communities.”
One primary reason behind the increased likelihood of sticking with a mental health program is the expense. Many of the health centers have some funding from the state, and have licensed medical providers who have privileges to prescribe medication and bill insurance for services. Though the health center is open to any student, even those without health insurance. The numbers according to the report are staggering: a black or Hispanic student participated in an average of 13.6 sessions at the school health center, while those seeking the same services in their community would only do two or three sessions.
Another factor is the staff, who have prioritized the well-being of these students. The Stamford health center is staffed by nurse practitioners, social workers, and dental professionals. Emily Segal, who is quoted in the CTPost/C-HIT story and works at Stamford High School, was recently named the Provider of the Year by the Connecticut Association of School Based Health Centers.
Helping students cope back to top
From their release on the award: “For the past 17 years, Segal has helped countless Stamford High School students cope with a variety of emotional and mental health challenges. Her compassionate, non-judgmental manner has resonated with students to the point they often discuss their troubles with her before approaching parents or friends. And since she strongly believes that education reduces the likelihood that kids make unhealthy decisions, Segal has organized several prevention activities over the years open to all students at the school.
“To help kids manage the stressors of adolescence and give them the best chance to overcome obstacles, Segal has created a number of discussion and support groups to give kids a forum where they can voice their concerns. With the help of several students, she also formed Stamford High’s first Gay/Straight Alliance to bring a greater sense of tolerance and support around teens struggling with their sexual identities.”
LGBTQ youth are among the most high risk students when it comes to mental health services, and per the Trevor Project, are five times as likely to have attempted suicide compared to heterosexual youth. This means that the work that goes on in these Health Centers, and especially work done by people like Emily Segal can have their value measured in lives saved.
With the budget being the way it is, programs like these are experiencing cuts, with the most recent budget allocating $10.7 million in 2019, a $300,000 cut from the proposed budget. These centers, like the one in Stamford, are sometimes a city’s most valuable resource, keeping their students happy and healthy and on the right track.