Salt Lake City School District, Odyssey House offers mental health aid to students struggling during pandemic

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SALT LAKE CITY — Concerned by student mental health issues exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic, Salt Lake City School District is partnering with a Utah support group to provide free telehealth services to students.

“We know that right now many of our students are dealing with depression, anxiety, peer struggles and other mental health issues,” said Larry Madden, interim superintendent for Salt Lake City School District. “We know these issues have been exacerbated as families and students have dealt with the COVID-19 pandemic and the statewide school dismissal.”

The 2020 school year was hit hard by the pandemic. In-person classes ended abruptly, activities and social groups were cut short, friends were separated from one another and sports were canceled across the board, spurring a great deal of stress and uncertainty for K-12 students in the state.

Acknowledging this, Salt Lake City District is partnering with treatment center Odyssey House to better care for students’ mental health needs through free summer telehealth school-based therapy. These services are being funded through grants from the Salt Lake County Behavioral Health and the Department of Human Services Suicide Prevention.

Christina Zidow, Odyssey House chief operating officer, said youth and their families are struggling “now more than ever” with mental health issues. In a statement, she voiced that Odyssey House is eager to be a part of the solution.

Randall Carlisle, Odyssey House media and community affairs specialist, said services opened up last week and so far there’s been two requests. He said telehealth treatment services for students will go on as long as needed as Salt Lake City District schools plan next steps.

There are six therapists at Odyssey House who specifically deal with students and schools, and upon reopening, they will return to providing in-person services in schools if permitted to do …read more

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