People Incorporated provides insight into school mental health

5:18 p.m. | Friday, September 9, 2022

People Incorporated in New Hope acts as a home for children’s mental health programs, both day treatment and school-based treatment.

“Day treatment is in high demand, usually waiting lists to fill places,” said Bruce Cross, a therapist with the program. “School-based therapists are all full and schools want more.”

Cross supervises school therapists off the New Hope site. He sees integrating more mental health into the school day as the wave of the future.

“It’s really how you access mental health services now. There was no school lunch then and now there is. There were no nurses at the school then, now there are. There will be mental health services in all schools,” Cross said.

But what do these services look like?

Nathaniel Brueske gives us a look. He is the school therapist who works at Sandburg Middle School and says he helps about five percent of the student population there during the year.

“I have a lot of kids who don’t know how to express their emotions,” said Brueske, who tries to get kids to open up beyond saying they’re just “sad” or “angry. “.

Brueske says he tries to create a cool space in his office, with gaming chairs and non-fluorescent lighting. He is encouraged when people pass by, showing they are standing up for their sanity.

“Last year I had a few kids say to me, ‘Hey, you’re the guy,’ which was really encouraging to see young people doing this for themselves,” Brueske said. “Even though the kid did all the work, I was there to help facilitate. It’s cool and rewarding to see how they’ve grown.

To interact with students, therapists often use crafts or games appropriate to their age.

“Anything that’s going to keep the person interested and talk to me, that’s what we do,” said Kylie Otte, a therapist.

Often, Otte says she finds success simply by making sure students feel heard.

“My job is to run alongside them until they run alone,” Otte said.

To learn more about the programs available at People Incorporated, click here.


See also: Newsmakers: People Incorporated finds growing demand for mental health training


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