A school program called TeenTalk supports students with emotional needs, when they are going through trouble at home, depression, peer pressure, and anxiety and depression. In Connecticut, Greenwich is the only town to have Kids In Crisis TeenTalk in middle schools. Other nearby towns have them in high schools.
Funded by the Town of Greenwich and organized by Kids in Crisis, TeenTalk ls part of expanding mental health services in schools. “Unfortunately if you don’t identify these kind of issues early, you end up having to deal with them much later on when they are untractable,” said Alan Barry, Greenwich’s Department of Social Services commissioner.
Each middle school in Greenwich has one TeenTalk Counselor. There are regular counseling sessions with some students, and the counselors can also respond to crises, such as fights with friends, family emergencies, and thoughts of harming self.
According to Deb Katz, director of outreach and community initiatives for Kids in Crisis, school mental health staff are often challenged with meeting the needs of special education students. “One of the benefits that we have is we can work in conjunction with the school psychologists and the social workers and the guidance counselors and we can be a resource to them to help meet the needs of the other kids that they can’t get to,” she said.