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CCISD brings mental-health help into schools using TCHATT

Posted at 9:27 AM, Aug 09, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-09 10:30:58-04

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas  — As students head back to the classroom, parents and CCISD teachers and staff want them to be comfortable at school.

That's why the district has created programs such as Caring Corner, which provides students with basic needs like free clothing, school supplies, and hygiene products.

CCISD also has recruited more mental-health social workers.

Right now, there are 14 social workers for all CCISD campuses, and 10 licensed mental health therapists available for middle school students.

The district is down one social worker, which means four schools don't have an assigned district social worker.

But district mental-health specialist Maria Iyescas said, even if it means that the district's social workers have to do a little more work, the kids will have all the support they need.

“We realized right now we are down a social worker," said mental health specialist, Maria Iyescas. "As soon as I mentioned that to the team, there were already volunteers to (help)."

But technology is also helping fill the gaps.

Texas Child Health Access Through Telemedicine or TCHATT, was created by state lawmakers in 2019, and is used buy 300 districts across the state, including CCISD.

It was first implemented at Ray and Miller high schools in 2021, and Miller High School lead social worker Linda Ramirez said a total of 19 students from both schools have participated in TCHATT so far.

To begin therapeutic sessions through TCHATT, Ramirez first evaluates a student referred by a CCISD staff member.

If she thinks the student can benefit from TCHATT, she contacts their parents for consent.

“It’s through UTRGV," she said. "They are a consortium of highly skilled professionals who will provide diagnostic, access, and provide treatment plan,” said Ramirez.

University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley psychologists and licensed professional counselors then have a session with the student.

“TCHATT occurs . . . through an iPad, which you’ll see back there," Ramirez said. "They have the privacy of this room, and I’m usually out there.”

The therapist or counselor will then consider different forms of treatment, depending on the student's diagnosis.

TCHATT is not being offered at every CCISD high school.

For immediate mental health resources, call 1-800-273-8255. To find help for you or your family, visit MentalHealthTx.org.