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Behavioral health care is on site at Colorado Springs school-based clinic

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This story is part of Lifelines, a Rocky Mountain PBS project focused on youth suicide prevention. This is one segment in a series of stories focused on how communities have responded after experiencing high rates of youth suicide. Find the full Learning Through Loss story here.

PREVIOUS SEGMENT:Youth helping to design pilot model for mental health and wellness

If you have an immediate mental health crisis, please call Colorado Crisis Services at 1-844-493-8255 or text TALK to 38255. Or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. You can also chat with the Lifeline.

Insight with John Ferrugia

Behavioral health care is on site at school-based clinic


Colorado Springs students can receive counseling and care right at school in a new clinic.

In Colorado Springs, a lifeline on the campus of Mitchell High School has remained open even as COVID-19 forced students to learn from home.

In January, Peak Vista Community Health Centers opened a clinic aimed at offering medical and behavioral health care. The health center is open to the whole community but the school’s principal says it has been especially helpful for students and their families.

“We really try to treat mental health needs the same way that we would treat physical needs,” said Shaye Meissen, the clinic’s director of behavioral health. “When a patient comes in for their yearly physical … we ask questions about mood and depression and anxiety and stress, the same way we ask questions and look at their height and your weight and your blood pressure.”

The clinic has also offered dental care, but is currently referring dental patients to other locations due to COVID-19.

Maria Niichel, the school’s head counselor, says many students are struggling to feel connected during the pandemic.

“A lot of the things that we've seen with students is anxiety and depression skyrocketing ... maybe they don't feel as accessible to us, or accessible to teachers,” Niichel said. “Knowing that we have this clinic, it honestly gives them another reason to come near Mitchell.”

NEXT SEGMENT: Securing weapons, medications can save lives during a crisis