CCSD to Open New Mental Health Facility

Facility will make up for gaps in district mental health care


Quinn Rudnick

Cherry Creek Schools District is set to open a mental health facility on the Joliet Campus in Aurora next year. CCSD, partnered with the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Colorado School of Medicine to create the facility.

The district will open up a special mental health day treatment facility next year. The center treats patients daily for however long their condition, depression, suicidal thoughts, requires. According to CBS Colorado, CCSD is the first district in the country to provide such in-depth treatment for their students.

According to the CCSD’s official website, the facility will be partnered with the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, providing three levels, undefined by the district, of intensive treatment. Members of the community can take advantage of this resource at Cherry Creek’s Joliet campus located in Aurora.

“I think that there’s a variety of needs that our students have, and sometimes they’re met in private institutions,” Principal Ryan Silva said.

School-based mental health resources have been limited nationwide starting during the pandemic. According to the Pew Research Center, during the 2019-2020 school year, 61% of public schools offered mental health assessments in or outside of school. In terms of treatment, only 42% of public schools have resources available for their students.

While Creek has a variety of mental health resources, such as four psychologists on campus, their role is largely to coordinate with groups outside the school to provide care.

“We aren’t therapists here at school, but we are mental health providers, and when we see  need, we try to connect those dots and create access to resources,” school psychologist Dr. Melisande Holohan said.

For sophomore Ross Robinson, mental health is a high priority, and this new facility is a welcome addition, especially if the student body is informed of it.

“I can see value in [the treatment], if it is properly explained on how to get out there,” Robinson said.

Dr. Holohan feels that the facility treatment and academic resources will be a vital help to students, compared to the current treatment sources.

“It’s very, very stressful for families to provide therapy, and it’s not all integrated, so the idea that this would be integrated with our school district so that there’s some continuity of care is pretty exciting,” Holohan said.

The facility will use a triage system, a way of determining the severity of a patient’s affliction, to determine the level of treatment for patients. This format is the same one that Creek psychologists use for students.

“If you’re upset because you failed a test or you’re having struggles with friends, that is serious, but it’s not the same as someone who is feeling actively suicidal; we’re going to talk to them first even if you came in first,” Holohan said.

Administration and Mental Health Supervisors alike support this idea as a strong step towards strengthening students’ mental health.