Paragould High School Wellness Center opens Thursday

PARAGOULD, AR (KAIT) - Administrators, faculty, parents and students are celebrated the opening of the Paragould High School Wellness Center Thursday.

The Wellness Center is one of 10 school-based health centers in Arkansas to offer expanded care for faculty and students, such as physicals, vision and blood pressure screenings and mental health services.

The center was open one day a week in mid-November 2011. Registered nurse and Wellness Center coordinator Susan Brittingham said the district started offering services to high school students five days a week after Christmas. Last week services were offered to junior high students.

Paragould High School senior Hannah Moore got a prescription for her sore threat from the doctor at the center. "I know that there's a lot of sickness going around so it really comes in handy this year," Moore said.

The doctor at the clinic can test for illnesses and prescribe medication. Nutrition and weight management assistance is also available, along with blood pressure and vision screenings.

Gretchen Clayton is the licensed psychologist at the Wellness Center. "Typically the referrals come from the school counselor's office and they may come from teachers, parents, self referrals, so when a student has a problem, they'll go to the school counselor," Clayton said.

"The school counselor will spend a few sessions with them to determine if it's something they think they can handle or it's something they think they need a little more intensive services for."

Clayton says she hopes the on-site physical and mental care will decrease absences and increase the emotional well-being of students. "Right now the most common thing that I'm seeing is the cutting issue. That is huge. I see several students strictly for cutting.

"I think a lot of that stems from low self esteem as well as anxiety and depression."

Moore agrees that location is everything. "Some children have to travel all the way to Jonesboro or even further to go, and I think that they would use this more just because it's here at their school."

Administrators also plan to add dental care to the list of services.

The Paragould High School Wellness Center is open 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. Monday through Friday. For more information call the center 870-236-7744.

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