ANNAPOLIS, Md. — A new program allows school nurses to connect high school students to licensed therapists through tele-sessions thanks to a partnership between the Anne Arundel County Public Schools and the Anne Arundel County Department of Health.
Called STAR – Screening Teens to Access Recovery – the program is designed to help students dealing with substance abuse. Last year, 327 students were suspected of being under the influence of a substance when they were in county school health rooms, a press release from the county school system said. Nationally, one in 10 adolescents who have substance abuse disorder receive no treatment for it.
“STAR is modeled after the County’s Safe Stations Program because of its convenient and welcoming accessibility,” said Acting Anne Arundel County Health Officer Billie Penley. “Whereas any county resident seeking substance treatment can walk into any fire station or police station 24/7, any high school student can arrange to go to the school health room at any time during the school day for help. Both programs offer nonjudgmental stigma-free environments.”
Students will be screened by a therapist licensed by the Department of Health when they come to a health room seeking help. Using those screening results, the therapist will work with the student to determine treatment options and develop a course of action. Students will be encouraged to include their parents, guardians, caregivers, or other trusted adults into the process, the school system said. School staff can also refer students suspected of having a drug or alcohol issue to the nurse.
“This is another proactive step our incredible partners at the Department of Health are taking to help us address wellness issues with all of our students,” said the county’s Superintendent Dr. George Arlotto. “I believe the ability of students to access assistance from a friendly face in the school health room will encourage more students to seek help when they need it.”