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By Linda Lemmon
Town Crier Editor
PUTNAM --- "Not in Putnam" is the equivalent of sticking your head in the sand, according to Putnam School Superintendent William Hull.
Trauma is the number one health concern in the U.S. The Putnam school system and Generations Family Health Center recently joined forces to help Putnam's school children.
Generations has opened a behavioral healthcare location in Putnam High School.
In collaboration with the Putnam school system, the Generations Behavioral Health Services was expanded through the district's school-based Health Center into Putnam High. The program has already begun.
The clinic will only provide behavioral health care, according to Generations officials.
The Putnam students are not immune from that trauma that is a national trend.
"Kids are under a tremendous amount of pressure," Hull said. It's not just in Putnam but across the nation. The rise in anxiety and the lack of resilience shows how much trauma plagues children.
"This is a health epidemic," Hull said. "We wanted to be proactive."
Research, Hull said, points to the trauma of adverse childhood experiences affecting health issues even into adult life.  In fact, if a child experiences four or more  adverse childhood experiences then the odds of health issues developing even into adult life are "astronomical," he said. For example, experiencing four traumas as a child increases the risk of heart attacks some 50 percent.
Trauma includes things like divorce, food insecurity, drugs and alcohol abuse by a family member.
The stresses on today's kids includes the problems brought on by social media. "It's an instantaneous world. Kids can't handle that." Hull said.
While each student is unique, school officials can see some signs of concern in students including behavioral problems, poor grades and lack of communication.
Acting out is a form of communication, he said. "The kids that don't act out, don't communicate, are the kids that we're concerned about."
Recognizing the problems, the stress, Hull said the school district wanted to be proactive. They brought in evidence-based curriculum. Hull said that three other districts have already visited Putnam to take a look at what Putnam has done. "We see the same thing" others have said to Putnam school officials. "We'd like to pick your brain."
"We look at this Behavioral Health Service as another service for kids, just like tutors for studies." With behavioral services not only are the students better, but their grades go up.
According to Generations officials,  students can be referred by school personnel (usually nurse, psychologist or social workers) by their PCP or medical management provider, by family or they can access services themselves if they feel the need. They need to call the PHS SBHC office for an appointment.
Generations officials said "Students today face a multitude of challenges caused by trauma and the complexities of modern society. Nationally one in five students in all schools have experienced some form of trauma that interferes with learning. The Putnam High School Based Health Center builds on a great relationship that already exists between Putnam Public Schools and Generations Family Health Center."


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