Families in the Sparta Area School District have a new friendly face to turn to for support when navigating mental health services in our community. Kaylynn Friend joined the district in late 2019 as the Mental Health Navigator, a newly created position made possible by a grant from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI).
DPI’s School Based Mental Health Services Grants Program awarded the SASD a total of $150,000 over the next two years to fund the Mental Health Navigator role. In this role, Kaylynn will support district staff and families by helping them navigate mental health services and access treatment for SASD students. She will also provide professional development to SASD employees on mental health and trauma-sensitive practices.
“The help I provide families can be completely individualized based on each family’s needs”, explained Kaylynn. She can provide basic information on services in our area, or can stand side by side with families throughout the entire process of accessing mental health treatment. Kaylynn can assist with calls to clinics, intake paperwork, managing appointment schedules, and more. Kaylynn is a Medicaid specialist, and can help families decipher their insurance coverage of mental health services. Right now, Sparta Area School District families who wish to work with Kaylynn can do so by contacting their school counselor, who can make a referral.
Kaylynn sees herself as a liason, connecting staff, family, and students to mental health services in the community. She hopes to be a neutral party who is there to advocate for families while helping them make informed decisions. “I’m just another person on your team,” says Kaylynn. “I’m a person in your corner, who’s here for you”.