JOLIET – Going back to 2005, the Health Department’s Behavioral Health Division has been able to provide graduate student counselors on the Central and West campuses as part of the Youth Experiencing Success in School (YESS) program.
Dr. Joe Troiani, director of the Will County Health Department Behavioral Health Division, says this “front line intervention” can not only help prevent on campus incidents, but also help get students in need of counseling on the right path.
“It’s hard to just tell a student to come here to the Health Department,” Troiani said in a news release. “But with this kind of front line intervention, we can get their attention on campus so that they will more likely participate in our program. Sometimes it’s as simple as a teacher grabbing a student and telling them ‘you need to go talk to the Health Department counselor down the hall.’ This provides the needed screening, and then linkage to our services.”
The Joliet Township High School District has stated that this program of direct access, eliminating the need for referrals, has resulted in school climate improvements such as a decline in the number of fights, assaults, and expulsions.
JTHS has also reported that during the first semester of the 2017-2018 school year over 400 direct one-on-one student contact hours were provided by the Will County Health Department interns, with over 100 students participating in group therapy sessions. The number of students receiving services for the current second semester are expected to rise.
Will County Center for Community Concerns was able to combine efforts with JTHS District 204 on a $15,000.00 block grant to keep the program going. Center for Community Concerns Director Belithia Johnson, along with Executive Director Kris White, presented the check during the April 18 Joliet Township High School Board meeting.
Will County Health Department Executive Director Sue Olenek joined in accepting the check, stating that “The Will County Health Department thanks Joliet Township High School and the Center for Community Concerns for their financial contribution, and for their appreciation of this program.”