Ardmore district partners with local nonprofits to hire school-based mental health professionals

Plamedie Ifasso
The Daily Ardmoreite

Ardmore City Schools is partnering with Lighthouse Behavioral Wellness Centers and Ardmore Behavioral Health Collaborative  to provide the district with a school-based licensed mental health professional. 

The Oklahoma State Department of Education used federal relief monies to fund the Oklahoma School Counselor Corps, a grant program aimed at helping school districts hire school counselors and school-based mental health professionals.

The program seeks to address students’ mental health needs as well as alleviate the Oklahoma’s student to counselor ratio. The American School Counselor Association recommends schools have a 250 to 1 student counselor ratio, and Oklahoma has a 411 to 1 ratio. The grant will fund the positions for three year and pay for about 50% of positions’ salary and benefits. 

Ardmore City schools applied and received funding for both a certified school counselor and a licensed mental health professional. 

Ardmore nonprofits offer classroom help

After applying and receiving funding for both a certified school counselor and a licensed mental health professional, director of Ardmore Behavioral Health Collaborative Ellen Roberts said Ardmore City Schools reached out to Lighthouse Behavioral Centers to ask if they would be interested in a partnership to embed a licensed professional counselor for the district. 

“Lighthouse was very happy to be able to provide that,” Roberts said. “We already have a counselor in place that is an LPC, licensed professional counselor, that will be stepping into that role.” 

Roberts said children’s therapist Bria Tynes was chosen for the position and will fully step into the role in September after her caseload is transferred over. 

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Working to beenfit Ardmore students, families

Tynes received her Bachelor of Science in Psychology and Master of Psychological Services from East Central University. She worked as a victim services specialist for a domestic violence shelter. After earning her master’s degree, she worked as an adolescent therapist until 2019 when she joined Lighthouse and became a children’s therapist.

She has specialized training in working with children and adolescents who have experienced trauma and is trained in trauma focused cognitive behavioral therapy. Tynes will provide assessments, counseling services, crisis intervention, group therapy, referrals for wraparound services for families at Lighthouse and staff collaboration and training for the district staff. 

“Bria will be able to refer to services that Lighthouse offers,” Roberts said. “We will be able to provide support for that whole family. So if that caregiver is needing some mental health services, then we can refer to that. But maybe they need some support because of the mental health services that child is needing. It will depend on the situation. We’re hopeful we will be able to holistically provide services for the entire family. 

The partnership aims to improve student’s mental health and support staff, and Roberts hopes the program will create positive outcomes and prove the need to continue the position after three years. 

“[Our goals] are to identify what those mental health needs are and find ways where we can provide interventions when necessary or refer to services when necessary,” Roberts said. “Then we also want to support staff in understanding when a student is having a behavioral issue or academic issues or mental health needs that might be causing some issues.”