Agency Could Lift Mental Health Burden In Shrewsbury Schools

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Superintendent Joseph Sawyer said Shrewsbury Youth And Family Services could help the district with its mental health cases. Photo Credit: John Swinconeck (file)

SHREWSBURY, Mass. — As Shrewsbury schools cope with an increase in mental health emergencies among its students, the district may be looking to organizations such as Shrewsbury Youth and Family Services for help.

Superintendent Joseph Sawyer warned the School Committee in December that the district was "behind the curve" in helping students with mental health crises.

Shrewsbury Youth and Family Services, a private nonprofit organization, helps preschool-age kids to seniors citizens cope with challenges, including domestic abuse and access to counselors and crisis workers.

"I'm expecting the partnership between our organizations will and grow and strengthen," Sawyer told the school Committee on Jan. 9.

Sawyer and outgoing agency Executive Director Jeffrey Chin said they had been in contact with state Sen. Michael Moore in hopes of getting state funds to help facilitate that partnership.

The agency can handle student crisis that extend beyond the schools and into the family environment – something that may be beyond the schools' expertise, Sawyer said.

Shrewsbury Youth and Family Services can provide many mental health services, said Dr. Kimberlee Kusiak, vice chairman of its board of directors and a consulting psychiatrist in the school district. Such services can be used with little to no cost to the school district. "It's amazing — what we can get thru SYFS I can get no where else from the state," she said.

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