Tessa Wilkerson Mug

Tessa Wilkerson

McLean County Public Schools has added a new position for the upcoming school year, the district-wide mental health provider. The position, according to district school psychologist Haley Hudson, will serve to provide mental health awareness and resources for students and their families.

Tessa Wilkerson has been named for the new position of mental health provider for MCPS. She is a former graduate of McLean County High School and has a Bachelor’s degree in social work.

Wilkerson said she hopes to help bring mental awareness to the schools and wants students to know they have someone they can talk to if they need.

“Especially, it’s a time when now, everyone’s been stuck at home. It can be hard on your mental health,” she said.

According to Sherri Turley, director of special education for MCPS, the position came about after the district received grant money through Kentucky Safe Schools, which is a part of the Kentucky Department of Education and helps provide various resources for schools, such as bullying prevention training and suicide prevention training.

Turley said with the position being so new, its role within the schools is still a work in progress.

“This position all came to be very quickly. As you know, everything’s been crazy,” she said. “We’re building the bridge as we’re crossing it since this is an entirely new position to us.”

Hudson said that while Wilkerson will be housed in Marie Gatton Phillips Elementary in Sacramento, she will be visible in all of the district’s five schools, primarily the three elementary schools.

Some of the main roles for Wilkerson’s position will be to develop the district crisis plan protocols and help lead and complete thread assessments for students that may be at high risk of hurting themselves or others, according to Turley.

Thread assessments, she said, involve looking into whether students require further outside evaluation and helping students that do with reintegration upon returning to school.

Turley said the position will also help provide resources for students and families, as well as community partners to provide as much mental health awareness as possible and training for students, teachers and staff.

However, the position is only funded for one school year at this point, according to Turley, so it is unknown whether the position will still exist outside of the 2020-2021 school year as of now.

“If even for a year. We’re super excited to provide this service for our kiddos and our families as well. And especially, like Tessa said, in such a time as this,” Turley said.

Christie Netherton, cnetherton@mcleannews.com, 270-691-7360

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