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Several metro schools offering physical, mental health help for students over summer break

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- School is almost out for summer, but the lack of classroom time for some students doesn't mean they lose access to the services they get during the school year. Some metro school districts offer for physical and mental health during summer.

In the Shawnee Mission School District, there's a clinic at Merriam Park Elementary for students all year. It's made possible through a federal grant and a partnership with the Health Partnership Clinic.

"Most kids need health physicals and or immunizations in the summer, especially those pre-K and kindergarten kiddos," said Shelby Rebeck, health services coordinator for the Shawnee Mission School District.

The clinic started in January. It's on a one-year pilot program, offering medical, dental and behavioral health, which includes ADHD testing and mental health assessments, so they can  refer students to therapists.

"Many of us know that behavioral healthcare takes a long time to get into," Rebeck said. "If you're having issues with your kiddos, this is a great avenue to get that appointment earlier."

In Olathe, students, staff and their families can get free therapy services at the Prairie Learning Center over the summer thanks to a partnership with Friends University.

Marriage and family therapy interns give 50-minute therapy sessions. This is the program's second year, and about 60 new people have already signed up.

"We're in a climate where the mental health needs are there," said John Laffoon, director of Olathe's theraputic services. "And we've got to help families by making it accessible, by making it available."

According to Johnson County Mental Health, suicide is on the rise all over America, including Kansas and Missouri.

With access to help in schools, program directors say they hope more people seek the help they need.

The Olathe summer program is already at capacity.

"The positive side of that is that people are willing to reach out," Laffoon said. "The service is there and people are going for it."

Although the therapy sessions in Olathe are maxed out, you can still reach out. They'll help connect you with other community providers.

As for other school districts in the metro, KCMO Public Schools provides mental health services for students year-round.

David Smith, spokesperson for KCK Public Schools said students who get mental health services have a continuation of care but said there isn't an official program.

According to Susan Hiland with North Kansas City Schools, the district's Tri-County therapist works year-round and is available to students and families for information or for continuation of services they are receiving.