New University of Michigan Regional Alliance for Healthy Schools clinic opens at Ypsilanti High School
Students at Ypsilanti High School can now receive physical and mental health care services inside their own school building, thanks to a new health clinic that opened this week.
The clinic, the fifth one in Washtenaw County operated by the University of Michigan Regional Alliance for Healthy Schools is sorely needed said Jennifer Salerno, director of the alliance.
“I’ve already talked with people there multiple times and we’re just inundated with kids who need some sore of mental or physical health help,” she said.
Staff at the clinic, which opened its doors on Monday, will diagnose health problems, provide preventive substance abuse services, provide dietician services for overweight students and monitor students with asthma, Salerno said.
The clinic is open Mondays and Fridays during school hours.
“It’s an excellent resource to have here in the school,” said Kwame Stephens, interim principal. “As most of us know, there is a direct correlation between healthy bodies and healthy minds.”
Salerno said the program attempts to provide health for all aspects of teenage life. She said clinics can usually help students who might not be able to afford treatment outside school.
“It’s sort of a safety net for kids who are falling through cracks. ... Some students couldn’t get care in the community. When it’s mental health reasons, it’s very difficult to access mental health care in the community.”
Other clinics are at Stone High School and Scarlett Middle School in Ann Arbor, the Willow Run High School and Middle School complex and Ypsilanti Middle School.
According to a study released in September, Michigan has the fourth-largest school-based health center program in the country. More than 100,000 students across the state have access to 68 school-based programs throughout Michigan.
Salerno said all students who use RAHS clinics need to have a parent consent form on file with the school, something usually done during the fall registration process.
Each clinic has a youth advisory council for students to discuss health issues, Salerno said.
The students who get involved in the council are not typically the students who get involved with student government and other school groups, she said.
“We’ve noticed a big change in kids involved in the council,” she said. “They’re graduating and going on to college. They communicate with adults (better). ... It keeps kids connected to the school community.”