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Mental Health Program in Five Calumet County School Districts Results in 80 Percent Participation, 651 Counseling Sessions in One Year

Five Calumet County school districts and Samaritan will mark the one-year anniversary of THRIVE Calumet, a school-based mental health pilot program, with a Report to the Community on Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2022, at Calumet County Park in Hilbert. The five participating school districts are Brillion, Chilton, Hilbert, New Holstein, and Stockbridge.

Samaritan staff and school administrators will be present to share accomplishments, trends, challenges, funding concerns, and plans for the 2022/23 school year.


THRIVE Calumet 2022 Report to the Community

Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2022

Calumet County Park Lodge 6150 Co Rd EE, Hilbert, WI 54129

11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

11 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. news conference with Q&A

11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. lunch and socializing

Box lunches will be available to grab and go if you cannot stay

RSVP to Heather Steinberger at [email protected] or 920.886.9319 Ext. 155

History of THRIVE Calumet

The coalition of five Calumet County school districts received a $231,544 grant from the Basic Needs Giving Partnership within the Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region to launch a school-based mental health pilot program in spring 2021. The Chilton School District was also supported by a $2,500 grant from the Ruth Bolz Memorial Fund, and a $7,500 grant from the Chilton Area Community Foundation, an affiliate of the Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region. The pilot also received support for Brillion Public Schools with a $1,500 grant from the Brillion Area Community Endowment Fund within the Brillion Area Family of Funds.

THRIVE Calumet brought Samaritan’s school-based mental health screening for youth to one grade in each school during the pilot year. A total of 1,011 screens were offered, 807 (80%) were completed; 310 young people screened positive for mental health concerns; and 156 students received a total of 651 counseling sessions.

THRIVE Calumet is the first of its kind for Samaritan because it goes beyond making referrals after the youth mental health screenings to also providing mental health services in the schools and communities it serves. Students, family members, and school district staff all have access to THRIVE Calumet services.

Samaritan provides on-site and/or virtual mental health, substance abuse, and bilingual counseling (Spanish and English) services to students, families, and staff, regardless of their ability to pay.

School administrators and Samaritan share the value of THRIVE Calumet

Early intervention helps with greater school readiness, academic success, less grade retention or special education, and reduced welfare dependency. “If mental illness is untreated, children can experience crippling, long-lasting effects like dropping out of school, incarceration, teen pregnancy, poor employment opportunities, poverty and future dependence on assistance programs,” said Jen Parsons, director of Connected Community Wellness Screen within Samaritan. “School-based programs are proven to be cost-effective and very good at removing barriers to care.”

“Awareness is key to the success of providing services to an identified need. Through the paired support from all stakeholders involved in the THRIVE Calumet program, students, families and community members are receiving comprehensive support from screening to services, in a timely manner. Not only are more students, staff and community members receiving the support they need, but this program has also provided a safe space for the stigma of needing mental health support to be broken. It is amazing to look back at what our county looked like from a mental health need perspective prior to THRIVE Calumet and see the significant impact our organization has had in only one year! Stockbridge School district is excited to see the exponential growth that Thrive Calumet will have in the years to come,” said Curt Meshak PK-12 Principal, Stockbridge School District.

Tiffany Schuette, a counselor at New Holstein Elementary School, said, “I have families that I have been trying to get into counseling for years that have finally been seen because of this program. When I talk to families about Samaritan, they’re relieved. They’re happy that it’s in the school, during the school day and they don’t have to drive anywhere. I’ve heard nothing but great things about it, and honestly, it’s a service that I don’t want to see ever go away because our families need it.”

Jennifer Konen, a student support specialist in the School District of Hilbert, said, “We know this program has saved lives. Every district fears losing one of their students by suicide. Having mental health services in our building is changing lives and providing hope. We are doing important work that needs to continue for our students.”

Kendilyn Brockman, Director of Student Services, Brillion Public Schools, concurs with Schuette and Konen, but suggests financial sustainability could be a real issue considering tight school budgets, “This has been a game changer for us. Our districts, our school boards, our administrators and the community are starting to understand how important this is to have in schools. From the administrative side, it will be a struggle for us from a budget standpoint, to be able to fund this if the grant money were to disappear.”

Lori Muench, Director of Pupil Services, Chilton School District, said, “Pairing our school counselors with Samaritan’s screening and mental health counseling has been huge for our community. We have been able to reach families dealing with AODA issues and our Spanish-speaking families, and we didn’t have resources to do that prior to partnering with Samaritan.”

Chilton Mayor Tom Reinl said, “I can’t believe all the positives that have come out of this program. We have to sustain it. I see nothing more important to support the future of this country. We have no place better to start than with young people.”