A $10,000 investment by Boca Raton means students at two local high schools will have access to free mental health counseling to tackle anger management, self-esteem and depression, among other issues.
The city is partnering with the Faulk Center for Counseling in Boca Raton to offer group counseling once a week at Boca Raton and Spanish River high schools. It’s the first time a government entity has funded counseling services through Faulk Center since Palm Beach County stopped doing so years ago, said Vicki Katz, Faulk’s CEO.
“Frankly, at our governmental level, we’re not doing enough,” said Boca Raton Councilman Scott Singer, who proposed the mental health partnership.
The nonprofit Faulk Center, supported by private donations, puts on weekly skill-building group sessions at 16 Palm Beach County schools, mostly at the elementary and middle school level.
The $10,000 donation allows the nonprofit to expand to the two Boca Raton high schools.
“The program has like 20 years of track record,” Katz said. “We’re going to implement something that has worked for us.”
One in five children in the United States experience a mental disorder in a given year, the Centers for Disease Control reports. And many of those families don’t have access to therapy or counseling because of availability or cost.
Offering free and low-cost counseling at schools is a “great way to address a population that’s vulnerable and concentrated,” Singer said.
Aside from school programs, the Faulk Center offers free and low-cost counseling, therapy and support to families, couples and adults at its center on Boca Rio Road south of Palmetto Park Road.
The center partners with graduate students in master’s or doctoral degree programs in social work or psychology, who contribute to the counseling services. Clinical volunteers and a staff of licensed psychologists oversee the programs.
The high school counseling will give the Faulk Center a chance to spot mental health disorders among teens, and refer those students or their families to the center or other medical professionals, Katz said.
If all goes well, the program may expand to other area schools.
“As a student I had more issues in middle school than I did in high school, I know a lot do,” said Boca Vice Mayor Jeremy Rodgers. “So if it’s successful, maybe look at expanding it even further.”