Fairfax County Public Schools are offering a free meeting with a mental health professional to any student or school parent this summer.
The program makes free mental wellness consulations available, as many students don’t have access to the counselors they would normally talk to when they need help during the summer.
Amber Ong, a school psychologist within the district, said FCPS wants to let families know it’s perfectly normal to ask for help.
“One of our goals is really to destigmatize seeking support and seeking help,” Ong said.
The virtual sessions will be offered through Friday, August 5. The program website says said any FCPS parent may request a consultation with a school psychologist or school social worker. Consultations can be done by phone or video call, lasting up to 45 minutes.
Ong said several hundred people have signed up so far, two-thirds of which are adults asking for advice on how to help their kids.
“It doesn’t have to be like a therapy appointment. It’s really just a conversation with someone who’s very knowledgeable,” Ong said.
The schools have seen many students with anxiety about COVID-19 over the past two years. This summer there are different concerns.
“They’re just trying to figure out how to re-navigate friendships and relationships and relationships with their parents and families. Everything has kind of shifted and changed,” Ong said.
Ong said if someone needs longer-term help, her team will connect them to other resources, without any pressure.
“Knowing that it’s a one-time appointment, it can be — no question is silly, you don’t feel like you’re taking someone’s time away from their regular job, because that is our job,” Ong said.
Students and parents can fill out an online form to sign up for a session.
According to Montgomery County Schools, mental health services are being offered county-wide at 14 school centers during the summer.
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