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Hello Idaho: Partnership aimed at connecting struggling students with free counseling

"We want our community to know that we are here for them."

TWIN FALLS, Idaho — A new partnership in the Twin Falls School District is taking aim at addressing student mental health and supporting families in our community. 

Starting in September, the district will offer a 'student and family assistance program' through BPA Health for every student. 

Eva Craner, the director of public relations for the Twin Falls School District, says a similar program has been in place for staff members for years.

Students or parents can call into a hotline to talk about what is going on in their life, and be set up with five free counseling sessions

"That's per instance, per individual, so if a student at the start of the school year is really struggling getting back into the routine - maybe that's their stressors, really having issues and questions for that and then let's say we are in an Airbnb, and there's a family separation or maybe a death in the family, they can be reached out again to the student of Family Assistance Program, and get five more counseling sessions for a separate incident," Craner said. 

Craner said that the district has been focused on helping students' mental health for several years, but the need has only grown during the pandemic

"For quite some time now, we've been trying to figure out how we can really build in these supports into our school system and how can you support our students' mental health, how can you support our staff members' mental health, so that they can focus on what they need to focus on in the classroom so that they can focus on that learning and that teaching," she said.

She said the program will help students deal with and understand some of the challenges they are facing outside of the classroom. Any family or student who is struggling is encouraged to reach out. 

"We want our community to know that we are here for them. We're a community school system, we want to be responsive to their needs and this is the need in the community and so we want to make sure that those students are supported," Craner said. This has been a challenging year, we know it's going to continue to be a little challenging. And this is something that we feel like we can do to support them." 

For more information on the program, click here.

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