CARL JUNCTION, Mo. (KSNF) – When children are struggling emotionally, an on-site counselor at school is aimed at helping them through whatever they’re going though.

Will’s Place in Carl Junction is one of several on-campus therapy offices in southwest Missouri.

A 2020 Missouri Student Survey has shown some eye-opening statistics about middle and high school student substance use and negative thoughts.

“The survey that’s recently come out… I think that the elevated numbers in the 6th through 8th grade range is what people are getting more concerned about,” says Adrienne Devine, LPC, CJ Will’s Place Therapist.

Locally, mental health professionals have implemented programs to help curb those statistics, including the addition of on-campus counselors.

“They’ve taken so many steps to have more variety of support available,” says Devine.

An on-site therapist means students don’t have to be shuffled around and fit therapy in between so many other activities and parent work schedules.

Devine explains, “They can come over and do therapy during their school day and transportation isn’t an issue and they can get back to their school day pretty quickly.”

Typically, in Carl Junction for example, counselors will see students or clients every other week, although some students may need more frequent visits.

“Maybe suicidality has gone up, or thoughts about self-harm have gone up, we’re going to meet with them more than once a week,” says Devine.

Plus, the need is there, based on what students are being seen for.

Devine says they’re visiting her office for “anxiety, depression, thoughts about suicide, self-harm, thoughts about self-harm, trauma history, bullying, online bullying, in-person bullying.”

The process helps normalize talking about how they’re feeling and what they’re going through.

“Talking about emotions, talking about things being difficult, so that they know that we’re somebody that they can come to to talk to about those things,” says Devine.

Counselors encourage keeping the lines of communication open as one of the best things a parent can do.

Devine says, “If you suspect that your young person is more apathetic, or hopeless, or making these dangerous choices, access us, call us, we’re in the schools, your school counselors are available, find a therapist that’s going to feel like a good fit for you.”

If you know anyone considering self-harm or you are considering it yourself, we urge you to call the Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).