Breaking Down Barriers to Behavioral Health in Prineville
Outfitted in her pink Converse sneakers, Behavioral Interventionist Mia Mikelic can’t wait to start her day at Barnes Butte Elementary School in Prineville, OR.
Her counterpart, Counselor Emma Saddler, is just as eager to get started each time she walks into the Crook County School-Based Health Center. The health center is located next to the Crook County School District’s administrative building.
“I love working with the children because they are excited to learn things,” Saddler said. “I have the honor of seeing them grow in positive ways at an age where they need so much support.”
Mikelic and Saddler are Lutheran Community Services (LCS) Northwest employees who work with children and teens in the Crook County schools. Mosaic Medical provides physical health care for students, while we provide the behavioral health component. Mikelic and Saddler focus on breaking down barriers for children and families needing behavioral health services.
“Working in the school allows our therapy and skill building to be consistent, available and flexible,” Saddler said. “Sometimes it’s challenging to get families into our Lutheran offices, but we’re right there in the school. By coming to them, children have better access to both medical and mental health care.”
Mikelic agrees. Working in schools gives them a more accurate picture of what the kids are going through. They work directly with teachers, counselors and administrative staff to provide a holistic approach to care for the kids.
Saddler and Mikelic are a dynamic team. Saddler focuses on therapy for children and families, while Mikelic works with students to build life and social skills. Sometimes Mikelic will even work with students in their classrooms.
“I help children apply what they’ve learned in therapy to the real world,” Mikelic said. “I support their coping skills in their environment. They do the best they can with what they are given.”
Their work is paying off. The Crook County School District is the number one referral source for LCS services in Crook County, with the Department of Human Services and Mosaic Medical a close second. The more people who use LCS services, the stronger and healthier the Crook County community will become.
This team is looking forward to growing services in the schools. Saddler would like to see more camps, groups and resources for families. Mikelic would like to focus on elementary-aged children and add an Interventionist to work solely with teens.
“Kids need services and that’s our jam,” Mikelic adds with a laugh.
This story was written by Communications Specialist Michelle Duff