It’s a scary thing to tell someone how hard it’s been

Thursday, June 02, 2016

PATH

Transcribed by: Brooklyn Massey, Intern at United Way Fox Cities and Former United Way Fox Cities Youth Board Co-Leader

WHBY’s Fresh Take with host Josh Dukelow interviewed Mary Wisnet, Community Development Program Officer at United Way Fox Cities and Lois Mischler, Vice President of Family Services of Northeast Wisconsin about United Way’s PATH (Providing Access to Healing) for Students. PATH is a school-based mental health therapy program that has served more than 1,000 students in all 10 Fox Cities’ school districts since its inception in 2008. Below is an abbreviated excerpt of the interview.
 
Listen to the full interview online.
 
Josh Dukelow: “Tell us why we know it’s important for young people to get access to mental health care. What have the statistics shown us?”
 
Mary Wisnet: “Well, the idea of PATH started back in 2006 when the life study came out, and some of the data we were seeing around mental health for the population as a whole in the Fox Cities, but particularly around students was pretty shocking to us. We found that 25% of students reported that they had experienced depression and 14% had admitted that they had attempted suicide. Those are numbers in the Fox Cities, not nationally or statewide, and they’re higher than national and state numbers. When our volunteers at United Way saw that, they were shocked and said, ‘We fund all these really good mental health programs why are we not getting the services to kids as they need it?’ That really is what launched the study of barriers to care in the community, and then bringing a program into a school setting.”
 
Josh Dukelow: “Lois, are there some illustrative examples or a ‘for instance’ that you could provide to us, of a student who was able to get the help they needed because PATH was in their school?”
 
Lois Mischler: “Let’s imagine that you are in a family that has not lived in a community for more than six months at a time. So pretty difficult – putting roots down, getting engaged with a therapist, which sometimes can take a while, limited resources, parents have to work a few jobs to make it work. (The student whose situation I am describing) had trauma issues, so this young lady was fortunate that she went to a school where PATH was provided, and had school folks who noticed her pretty quickly. She was able to get into our PATH’s therapists within a week, which is amazing. We could see her once a week -- often enough to make a difference. Initially, she came to us with thoughts of suicide and when she left us she was no longer having those thoughts. We left her with a toolkit so that she knew what to do…and she would need to be resilient, knowing that her life was going to be one that took her on the road often with her family. That would have never happened if we weren’t there for her in a way that made it easy in terms of logistics… because it’s a scary thing to open up and tell someone just how hard it’s been. Shout-out to everyone who’s ever sought out treatment!”
 
Learn more about United Way’s PATH for Students.