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With help from Burrell Behavioral Health and the Missouri Foundations for Health, a mental health provider will be working with students in both Nixa and Republic middle schools. KSMU’s Matt Evans reports.
Matt Bowers is the behavioral health counselor at Nixa and Republic middle schools. Bowers started part time at both schools in January on a grant from Burrell Behavioral Health.
"The main misson is to do proactive and preventative work with the students and help identify those students who may be experiencing or at risk of developing problems with alcohol and drugs and mental health problems," said Bowers.
Bowers has been involved in youth services for ten years. Although Bowers is a school-based mental health counselor, he acts as more of a private counselor to the students. He makes appointments around the families’ and students’ schedules. Since many parents have to work, Bowers says he doesn’t mind meeting with the family in their own homes.
Because Bowers is at Nixa and Republic on a grant, his services come at no cost to the district or to parents. He also believes his services may be more beneficial to students than talking to a faculty member.
“Confidentiality is in place, so I think kids can feel safer. And I can talk to kids where an authority figure, like an assistant principal, may not be able to,” said Bowers.
Nixa Junior High welcomes Bowers and believes he will play a major role in preventing behavioral problems and catching them in their early stages. Lori Wilson is the at-risk coordinator for Nixa Public Schools.
“If we can prevent something from a mental health aspect or from drug, alcohol, and substance abuse, it is better to do that at the junior high age, so by the time they’re in high school they’ve received the help that they need,” said Wilson.
Bowers plans on continuing to counsel students through the summer. For KSMU News, I’m Matt Evans.