Below is an interview with CYOU crisis counselors Kerri Welch and Jessica Jackson about their work with area youth and Blue Springs School District students. It was originally shared in the The Blue Springs Magazine.
For over 20 years, the Blue Springs Police Department Community and Youth Outreach Unit (CYOU) has partnered with the Blue Springs School District (BSSD) to provide resources and support to students ages 6-17. “The district values the importance of student mental health,” says CYOU crisis counselor Kerri Welch.
Students who meet with Kerri and her fellow CYOU crisis counselor Jessica Jackson are generally referred by school counselors but parents can also request time with the CYOU staff, “I think it’s a misconception that you have to be in trouble to receive our help and that’s not the case,” says Jessica. Students can meet with CYOU staff for help with a variety of topics including building healthy peer relationships, self-esteem issues, grief, loss, aggression and depression.
Kerri and Jessica participate in the Signs of Suicide (S.O.S.) program initiated by the Blue Springs School District. As part of the program, they recently worked with BSSD school counselors at all district middle and high schools,including the freshman center, to help students complete a depression and suicide risk assessment.These assessments were reviewed by school and CYOU counselors to identify students that self-reported emotional or mental distress. From there, the district reached out to the students and the parents to provide further resources as needed including CYOU counseling or more intensive intervention. “We can be the first step,” says Jessica. “A lot of families don’t know where to start; they can meet with us and we can direct them to the help they need.”
Kerri and Jessica provide counselling services in schools to meet with youth who have been referred by school counselors in an effort to maintain preventative outreach through on-site access. CYOU also provides short-term counseling to students and families out of their offices housed in the Howard L. Brown Public Safety Building.