Kids bullied into depression with no means to pay counselors for help find unique support on several charter school campuses.
YES Prep Fifth Ward is where 780 students go to grow. They are fenced in, protected and prepped for college exams.
They also have access to a mental health counselor housed on campus full-time three days a week. She only sees kids.
“These kids don’t view me as the teacher, the principal (or) someone that’s going to get them into trouble,” said Diana Swint, the counselor. “I’m the lady they can go talk (to) when (they’re) having a hard time.”
Swint sees up to 45 6th to 11th graders a week.
“I see a lot of depression, anxiety, family conflict, self-esteem, bullying (and) grief,” she said.
Arguably the most common concern heard is how to cope with poverty, she said.
“'Can my mom pay rent?'” Swint said. “'Our car broke down,' or 'We don’t have money for electricity this month.'”
It is why Legacy Community Health, one of Texas’ largest community health clinics, sent Swint. She is technically a Legacy employee.
However, the clinic has eight therapists serving 16 YES Prep and KIPP Academy campuses.
Legacy Health administrators believe too many Houstonians in need of mental health care simply cannot afford, find or catch rides to see counselors.
A YES Prep spokesperson told KHOU 11 News 84 percent of its students cannot afford such care, which hurts students’ focus, attendance and grades.
So, teachers and parents refer then quietly sends students to see counselors like Swint.
“It is key,” Swint said. “It is very critical that we address these issues at this moment.”
She and YES Prep administrators see progress.