Derby Public Schools to provide on-site mental health resources to students

Derby is joining other area school districts to connect students with COMCARE mental health professionals.
Published: Sep. 15, 2023 at 7:47 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - As concern grows for the mental health of teens, schools are looking for more ways to address the need.

Derby Public Schools is partnering with COMCARE to bring mental health professionals.

“We’re not only helping a student and a family, but we’re strengthening our community,” said Luan Sparks, the Derby School District’s Director of Alternative Learning.

Sparks said the district knows high school can be a challenging time for students. That’s why the district is changing its approach to addressing mental health.

“I think the dynamics in our schools. We are really having to step outside of what we’ve traditionally known in our schools to look at how can we help meet those needs. This is one of those avenues, and I think the potential for success is phenomenal,” said Sparks.

Derby’s mental health intervention team will start at the high school. The district is creating a new position for a mental health liaison who will work with school personnel to learn what students need.

Starting next week, a therapist and a case manager from COMCARE will begin working out of the high school.

Students think the move will be beneficial for their peers and the community.

“The teachers, school counselors, anyone can identify students who might need services, and then to start talking to those families. Families can also initiate on their own too, they just have to talk with the school or they can call us,” Aenea Harbes, a COMCARE school based program manager.

Sparks said Derby is in the final stages of hiring its mental health liaison. The hope is to grow the program to include other Derby schools in the future.