Camden students to benefit from in-school therapy


By Reggie Ponder
Staff Writer

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

CAMDEN — Pride in North Carolina is offering in-school therapy services for students in the Camden County Schools under a new agreement with the Camden Board of Education.

The agreement provides a “seamless situation” which students are able to receive mental health services at the school in a confidential setting with minimal disruption to their class schedule, according to Camden school board Chairman Christian Overton.

The board approved the agreement at a meeting last month. Pride in North Carolina bills insurance for the services, so there is no cost to the school district other than the requirement to provide space at each school where the services can be offered in a confidential manner.

Overton said making additional mental health services available to students is something the school board has been talking about for some time. The agreement allows students to receive counseling at school, meaning their parents won’t have to take time off from work to take them to an appointment, he said.

Perry Gurganus, regional director with Pride mental health services, addressed the Camden school board at its Sept. 14 meeting, noting that Camden was the only school district in the area without in-school mental health services.

Gurganus said under its agreement with Camden, Pride would attempt to have as little impact on student class schedules as possible. Camden school officials also outlined that goal in the district’s memorandum of understanding with Pride.

“It is the goal of the Camden County Schools that by providing access at school to these services the services result in an increase in student attendance, student achievement in the least restrictive environment and better transitions for students between school and mental health programs,” the agreement states. 

Under the agreement, the therapist, though hired by Pride, will work with Camden County school staff and “be viewed as a team member within the school setting.” Also, any Pride personnel working in the schools will have to pass a criminal background check.

The Pride therapist and the school district also will work together to implement the Positive Behavioral Supports Model.

“Pride realizes that problem behaviors continue to happen because it is consistently followed by the child getting something positive or escaping something negative.” the agreement states. “By focusing on the contexts and outcomes of the behavior, it is possible to determine the functions of the behavior, make the problem behavior less effective, and make the desired behavior more functional.”