Anoka-Hennepin schools to staff mental health hotline for students

Dennis Carlson
Anoka-Hennepin superintendent Dennis Carlson speaks at a news conference outside Anoka High School Tuesday, June 7, 2011. Carlson joined other district officials in announcing the creation of a support phone line students and families can call during the summer months to discuss mental health needs.
MPR Photo/Tom Weber

The state's largest school district says it will staff a phone line this summer for any student or family having mental health problems.

Anoka-Hennepin superintendent Dennis Carlson said data from this year showed more than 500 students spoke to an adult in a district school because of depression, thoughts about suicide or had some other mental health issue.

Carlson said the summer phone line will be a place for students to get referrals to other services in the area.

"The argument here is this is not our area; school's out," Carlson said. "We could have sent the kids home. I would tell you I couldn't sleep nights after I looked at the data and we didn't do something like this."

Carlson said the issue needs to be addressed by the community and the state. He called it a serious unmet mental health need in the area and across the state.

Anoka High School psychologist Karen Anderson says the phone line will allow students and families to talk or get referrals for other county services.

"They will do an assement of the situation and determine what kind of intervention needs to be made," Anderson said.

The district will first staff the phone line with one or two people. Carlson estimates the effort will cost between $50,000 and $100,000.

The phone line will be staffed all summer, M-F from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The number is 763-433-4695.

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