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Joliet D-204 board receives overview of mental health services

JOLIET – Joliet High School District 204 officials were given an overview of a mental health services program at the district.

Several agencies are involved in the Youth Experiencing Success in School, or YESS, program at the district, which has been helping hundreds of students with social and emotional needs since 2005 when it was established. 

In April, the program received a $15,000 boost from the Will County Center for Community Concerns through the community service block grant program. 

Agencies such as Will County Health Department, Guardian Angel Community Services, Girl Scouts and Chestnut Health System provide students with on-site assistance and programs. Patricia Sewing, Joliet West PPS coordinator, said it comes at no cost to the district. 

“It’s a very beneficial program,” she said. 

According to a presentation given to the board Tuesday, 29 students at Central and 43 students at West received mental health and therapeutic counseling services. Hundreds of individual sessions were completed between the schools as of May 1. 

Through YESS, students are provided several support groups such as anger management, college boot camp, family addiction, gang awareness, school anxiety and stress management. 

The board on Tuesday approved, in a 6-0 vote, to continue the district’s partnership with Chestnut Health Systems for the YESS program. Chestnut Health Systems, a health and substance abuse treatment provider, has been working with the district since 2015. 

Across Joliet West, Central and the alternate school this school year, Chestnut Health System had 22 clients and 149 kept appointments.

All students who were referred to Chestnut Health System but did not participate in a program received prevention and intervention with student assistance coordinators. The students are either serviced with a check and connect system, individual sessions or referral to the district’s Problem Solving Circles program, according to the presentation.

Board member Tracy Spesia said through her involvement in the district, she’s gained an understanding of the scope and magnitude of the social and emotional needs for student.

“I’m really gratified to see all these options and how much is going on,” she said. 

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