A Mental Health Initiative for Interboro School District

student with teacher outdoors
  • Interboro High School

    IU25 - Delaware County Intermediate Unit
    Interboro SD
    900 Washington Avenue
    Prospect Park, PA 19076

  • Success Story Contact

    Marvin Rosen
    Phone: 610-237-6410.2341
    Email: N/A

  • BSE/PaTTAN’s Role in Success:

    PaTTAN administers Interboro SD's grant from PDE. PaTTAN consultants visit the program regularly to aid with leveraging more funds, offering constructive feedback and providing professional development.

In 2007, staff at Interboro High School expressed concern over a large number of emotional, personality, and behavior problems among their student population. The social worker was available only part time, counseling services were usually reserved for academic problems and/or higher education advice, and school psychologists were overloaded with psychoeducational evaluations. The district’s administrators and school board decided to proactively address the emerging crisis by approving funding for a pilot program to provide mental health services at the high school.

The district contracted with Elwyn of Delaware County to provide two therapists to provide services for six hours per week for the 2007-08 school year. From the beginning, the high school staff was enthusiastic about the program. In fact, the initial call for student referrals resulted in over 70 students being referred, which was too large a number for the therapists assigned to Interboro. Two real concerns emerged immediately – (1) how to handle all the requests and ensure that the program was helpful for the students needing the assistance and (2) finding the physical space for students to receive the services they needed. Through mutual cooperation, compromise, and flexibility, Elwyn staff, the district’s social worker, and the director of pupil services were able to address all the concerns so students could receive services. In 2008, the Pennsylvania Department of Education awarded a grant to increase the number of therapists for the school. The grant is overseen and monitored by PaTTAN. PaTTAN consultants visit the program regularly to aid with leveraging more funds, offering constructive feedback and providing professional development.In order for students to be in the program, they are referred by their teachers. Most of the students were referred because of depression or aggressive behavior and discipline problems. After an initial evaluation, students are seen individually once a week for 30-45 minutes by a trained therapist. In addition to the one-on-one sessions, Elwyn provided professional development to teachers and assisted in developing a resilience curriculum. Both students and teachers responded very well to the curriculum and sessions provided. In the 2008-2009 school year, 72 students were seen for therapy. Group counseling was conducted regularly in three emotional and learning support classrooms using the resilience curriculum.

The program has made a difference as evidenced by Nick’s* story. Nick had severe school phobia and social anxiety. He could not seem to overcome his anxiety about entering a classroom. Nick wanted to drop out of school, but also really wanted to attend college. Through counseling, his therapist and teachers came up with an accommodation for Nick whereby he would be allowed to go to the guidance office and finish his work if he was experiencing an anxiety attack. He could take exams in the guidance offices if he needed to as well. Under this arrangement, Nick not only flourished academically, but gradually spent more and more time in the classroom. Last year, Nick was homebound, but this year Nick will graduate from high school and has been accepted to college.Congratulations to Interboro High School and Elwyn for contributing to Nick’s success story!* Not his real name