Mental Health Services Reach Duval County Students
The UF Health School Psychiatry Program delivers needed services to students in Duval County Public Schools.
Since 2016, UF Health Psychiatry – Jacksonville has provided services in partnership with Duval County Public Schools through the UF Health School Psychiatry Program. The school-based program is staffed by Shirley Alleyne, MD, DFAACAP, a board-certified adult and pediatric psychiatrist.
Alleyne and her team visit each participating school monthly to provide mental health evaluations and treatment to students, free of charge.
They provide services once every five weeks and average about 200 meetings annually. In 2019, UF Child and Adolescent Psychiatry fellows also began conducting evaluations with pediatric residents participating in the visits.
The program is currently based in six Duval County PRIDE Academy Schools, which include Arlington Middle School, Dupont Middle School, Holiday Hill Elementary School, Pinedale Elementary School, Smart Pope Livingston Elementary School and the Young Men’s and Women’s Leadership Academy at Eugene J. Butler. PRIDE schools serve students from kindergarten to 12th grade who have emotional and behavioral disabilities.
According to an article published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, school-based health centers and mental health services, along with the early identification and treatment of mental health disorders, have been shown to improve health and academic performance. Treatment services include ongoing medication management as well as parenting education and guidance. The services are supplemental to the ongoing psychotherapy offered by the schools’ clinicians.
“We have successfully treated students whose parents were unable to obtain consistent child mental health services in the community for various reasons. These children often have significant impairment due to their untreated mental illness,” Alleyne said. “The benefits of their improvement are experienced not only by them but by their families and the entire school body.”
Psychiatric services provided within the school setting are confidential and parents have access to their child’s evaluation reports. Diagnoses and recommendations are shared with the school’s clinician to inform their treatment within the school setting. The UF Health School Psychiatry Program’s services are flexible offering both in person and virtual evaluation and treatment visits.
Services are currently limited to Duval County schools, but future expansion may allow the inclusion of additional counties in Northeast Florida.
“As humans, we exist in a very interdependent state — we rise and fall together. Improvement in the mental health of every child treated has a ripple effect, collectively translating to a more productive, safer, happier and healthier society,” Alleyne said.
Recommendations related to each child’s schooling and environment are made to facilitate the best outcomes for their health and academic success. Parents of children attending the participating schools can talk with their school’s clinician or contact the office manager, Liliana Irizarry, or Dr. Alleyne at 904.383.1038 for more information.