SAN ANTONIO – Earlier this year, South San ISD students spoke up and asked the board of the trustees for more mental health services in their school.
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The district has now teamed up with six local agencies to bring a mental wellness mobile unit to their campus.
A pilot program has begun and is located at Athens Elementary.
"It's unlike anything ever offered and I think it's a blessing in itself that it's occurring here," said South San ISD behavior specialist Susan Arciniega.
The six agencies involved are: Jewish Family Services, Rise Recovery, Communities in School, Clarity Child Guidance Center, Family Service Association and the Children's Bereavement Center.
"Together we can look at the whole child and if one agency isn't able to help, we can direct them to the other and the child doesn't have to go anywhere else," Children's Bereavement Center CEO Marion Sokol said.
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The pilot program at Athens Elementary will include a stand-alone building that will provide counseling and therapy rooms for students, parents and faculty.
South San ISD was chosen for the pilot program because of the lack of transportation for families to mental health facilities and because there is a 1-to-421 ratio of social service staff to students in the district.
"A lot of these programs have just not been readily accessible to these families and to these youths," Family Service Association CEO Mary Garr said.
If the pilot program is successful the goal is to expand the service to all school districts.