Bowen Center

Sareina Sechler, assistant director and Alicia Johnson, director of the Bowen Center, Angola, sit in the lobby of the facility at 200 Hoosier Drive Suite E., Angola. Bowen Center is offering two free student assistance program counseling sessions to each student in grades K-12 in Steuben County this school year.

ANGOLA — School is starting back up in Steuben County and with that comes stress for many students.

That’s why staff at the Bowen Center has worked with Fremont Community Schools, Hamilton Community Schools and the Metropolitan School District of Steuben County to make sure each student in grades K-12 have access to two free sessions of care from the facility.

Alicia Johnson, director at the Bowen Center, 200 Hoosier Drive, Suite E, Angola, said the facility has signed contracts with the schools to offer students in the county the free sessions.

“All K-12 students in Steuben County can get two free sessions with us,” Johnson said. “We can also go to the school to work with them.”

For the 2018-19 school year, the program was available to students at Fremont and Hamilton schools.

It was in its infancy then for Steuben County, but had positive feedback. The program is also available in a number of other counties that the Bowen Center serves and has been well received.

It’s something Johnson said they’ve yet to have a school say they don’t want to continue offering.

To get their free sessions, Johnson said students can self-refer or the school can encourage them to reach out to the center.

Those under 18 must have parental consent.

“Through our student assistance program, there’s an opportunity for skills coaches and technicians to work with students with behavioral needs to address so they can focus which also helps free up the teacher to help teachers focus on the rest of the class,” she said.

Uniquely, Johnson said, at least one local athletic director has used the program as an alternative to expelling students from sports teams that drug test positive for substances like nicotine.

A lot of student athletes test positive for nicotine because of the growing popularity of Juul pods, Johnson said, and counselors help provide the psychoeducation they need to work through it.

She said the center has also worked with area police departments that can refer students to receive their sessions, especially when the department is entering the home of a domestic violence situation that has had a child witness.

While the program does not cover medication management, psychological testing, psychiatry visits, inpatient treatment or court-ordered treatment, it can be used as a link to get care set up for medications, therapy and the like if it is something the student should need.

“We work to break the stigma about mental health,” said Assistant Director Sareina Sechler. “We also work with Remedy Live to help get the word out that it is OK to talk about feelings.”

Bowen staff are also available to do presentations on topics that present as needed in the community.

Representatives from the center will be at area back to school programs with information about the program, letting students, staff and parents know that it’s available.

Problems addressed do not have to be school related and students and parents do not have to tell the school they’re taking part in the program.

Parents are encouraged to set up appointments directly through the Bowen Center by calling 800-342-5652.

Questions should be directed to the center, not the child’s school.

For more information on the Bowen Center, visit bowencenter.org.

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