GHS embraces mental health supports for students

Pupil Personnel Services is the department behind the opening of a satellite mental health clinic at Goshen High School. (Left to right: Mary Keller, Goshen High School psychologist; Dr. Heather Hendershot, director of Pupil Personnel Services; and Katie Shaffer, GHS social worker)

The Orange County Department of Mental Health is now offering services to Goshen students through a satellite office at Goshen High School. This addition supplements existing counseling services at GHS, and is made possible through a partnership between the Goshen Central School District and OCDMH Newburgh Child and Family Outpatient Clinic. 

“Offering flexible scheduling, we will provide treatment for Goshen High School students and their families in the school building, reducing the barriers of transportation and competing after school obligations,” said Kristen Moses-Westphal, OCDMH satellite clinic supervisor. “Through our clinician, families will also be able to connect with additional resources including medication management [and psychiatric evaluation].”

Dr. Heather Hendershot, director of Pupil Personnel Services, said the collaboration was four years in the making – since before the COVID-19 pandemic began in 2020 – but that even as students began to adjust to a new normal afterward, her department saw the need for mental health services increase.

To address this need, therapy appointments are now offered during the school day, after school, and in the evening at the clinic, located in a GHS classroom. OCDMH Social Worker Jennifer Cannella, will work to accommodate the scheduling needs of students and their families.

“This is a way for the district to be able to partner with families, to be mindful of the struggles families have,” Dr. Hendershot said, “especially with parents working and the limited availability providers often have.” 

According to research from the county department, children and adolescents are more likely to access needed mental health services when those services are located at their school. Additionally, children and adolescents who receive mental health services coordinated with their educational services experience greatly improved outcomes. The Goshen CSD is working toward bridging the gap between students and the mental health services they need.

“It’s about taking care of our full self, and not just academics,” said GHS School Psychologist Mary Keller.

For more information about the clinic or to schedule an appointment, please contact the GHS school counselor, social worker, or psychologist at (845) 615-6100. Social Worker Jennifer Canella can be reached at (845) 916-0601 or (845) 615-6119.

24/7 Resources

The Orange County Crisis Call Center is available for assistance outside school hours or on weekends. The center can be reached by dialing “311” or by calling 1 (800) 832-1200. At the crisis call center, trained counselors are available to assist those in need for mental illness, substance use, developmental disability, and sexual assault. Counselors can provide support over the phone; connect callers to appropriate services; dispatch the Mobile Response Team to assist with in-home support, assessment, and crisis de-escalation; and refer callers to a Certified Peer Support Worker to provide in-person support and assistance with the system and its services.

Students can also utilize the Text 4 Teens service by messaging (845) 391-1000. Trained counselors can provide support to teens who are struggling with any of the aforementioned issues, as well as provide information about services and make referrals.