It Takes A Village

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The World Health Organization reports that roughly half of mental health disorders begin before the age of 14.

Children all around the world are living with these illnesses without knowing exactly what they mean and how to cope with them.

Parents may want to take their child to see a psychiatrist, but between cost and wait time, sometimes that isn’t an option.

WTWO looks into some of the other resources available for struggling children here in Vigo County.

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The saying goes, it takes a village to raise a child. 

But for children in the United States struggling with mental health, sometimes that village isn’t well equipped. 

“The struggle nationally is, especially in smaller cities and rural areas, there just aren’t very many resources at all,” said Dr. Catherine Tucker, Counselor with Tree of Life Counseling and Consulting LLC.

One place where children can receive help is at school, but locally there are some concerns about the availability of school counselors. 

“The counselors who are in Vigo County are so overwhelmed with administrative detail work, that they’re really not able to do the level of intervention with individuals and small groups that would be ideal,” said Dr. Tucker. 

Another concern is the lack of mental health education at the elementary age level.

“You don’t think that you’re gonna need to teach that at an elementary school,” said Mandy Allen, School Counselor at Deming Elementary School. “But they need to learn it, they need to learn where to go for that help, and we’re not doing that yet.” 

Vigo County School Corporation is addressing these concerns by hiring additional counselors and mental health staff…and increasing mental health training for all employees.

But even with these measures, there’s always more help needed. 

“School’s no longer a system by itself,” said Rick Stevens, Assistant Director of Student Services with VCSC. “We have to reach out and collaborate with all of the agencies in the community.”

That’s where after-school programs like the Terre Haute Boys and Girls Club and 14th and Chestnut Community Center come in.

“We have them here with open arms and tell them ‘hey listen, it might not be so great where you’re at’, but coming here to the Boys and Girls Club, sometimes that solves a lot of issues with these kids having anxiety or anger issues,” said Bobby Moore, Director of Operations at TH Boys and Girls Club.

Allen calls these programs a saving grace for families, which is the whole point for those who work at them. 

“Somebody just has to step up and be willing to dedicate themselves to taking care of kids,” said Pastor Bill Felts, Executive Director of 14th and Chestnut. “And that’s what we do here.”

Because if it takes a village to raise a child, everyone must do their part.

“We all have to work together and help each other,” said Lorrie Scheidler, School Counselor at Otter Creek Middle School. “We don’t have all the answers, nor do families have all the answers, but together, we can make a difference.” 

The state of Indiana does not mandate school counselors in elementary schools, but VCSC has chosen to have a school counselor in each of its elementary schools, with only one being part-time. 

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