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New texting program gets Abbotsford students mental health help

A new initiative puts mental health help in the hands of students
Published: Jan. 31, 2022 at 10:41 PM CST
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ABBOTSFORD, Wis. (WSAW) - A new initiative at the School District of Abbotsford is giving students more help with mental health services. It was rolled out in November 2020.

The new program is called ‘School Pulse.’ It gives students the mental health help they need by using their smartphones. The app provides an anonymous platform for students to voice their concerns.

“There’s not a better feeling in the world when you know that you are doing things for the betterment of your students,” School District of Abbotsford Physical Education teacher and AODA Coordinator Tonya Klabon said.

Removing the stigma against mental health, that’s the goal of ‘School Pulse. The virtual interactive program is now being used by more than 70 students in the School District of Abbotsford.

“We’ve done a lot in the last few years with mental health and making sure that we’re not just teaching the students our academics, but also social and overall wellness,” Klabon said.

Students access ‘School Pulse’ by scanning a QR code. Then they text ‘Abbotsford’ to the phone number “78573.” Once they do that, they have access to mental health podcasts, videos, and people to listen to what they’re feeling.

“It’s a way for them to get off their chest what they need to,” said Klabon.

‘School Pulse’ is a step towards bringing awareness to something often swept under the rug, with the hope it saves young lives.

“We’re seeing increasing rates of suicide and mental health concerns,” Marshfield Clinic Health System Center for Community Health Advancement Director Darcy Vanden Elzen said.

Marshfield Health Clinic and Security Health Plan are helping pay for the new program at Abbotsford. Marshfield Health Clinic said mental health concerns have significantly grown during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Mental health issues were definitely in existence before COVID, but we’re seeing and we’re hearing from our partners that these things have amplified, especially in youth,” Vanden Elzen said.

The program allows students to speak honestly. ‘School Pulse’ will also check in on students three times a week with a text. If it finds something of concern, they alert the school.

“Any time you can do something proactive with mental health or anything for that matter, I think it’s a good thing,” Klabon said.

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