Rural Psychiatry Associates will be providing telehealth to students at Dickinson Middle School via Southwest District Health Unit every Tuesday morning beginning Sept. 17.
"They will assist with anybody who wants to see a psychologist or who might need psychiatric care," said Marcus Lewton, principal of Dickinson Middle School.
Parents who would like more information about the service or would like to sign up their child for it should contact their child's school counselor, who will walk them through the process of signing up.
Sessions will last about half an hour, and the school will be able to host five to six sessions per day. Parents are encouraged to attend the first session and may attend subsequent sessions if they wish.
Students will be excused from class for their session, which will be scheduled ahead of time after reviewing the student's schedule.
"Let's say they need more help in math, we're going to try not to pull them out of math ... we'll pull them out of a class where they're successful, probably, or is less intrusive," Lewton said.
He said having the option at the school would be convenient for families whose parents may find it hard to get off work and spend money to take their child to an appointment out of town.
"We have some families that use those services, but they would be going to Bismarck or Fargo right now, and that's hard on families sometimes. Just to get a medication refill sometimes they have to have an appointment," he said.
Lewton said going to out-of-town appointments can also be hard on kids, who may have difficulty when they miss school.
"When I was in school, if I missed science class, I had to read the chapter and do the questions in the back of the book ... now I'm missing labs, I'm missing guest lectures, I'm missing collaboration, I'm missing working in groups to solve critical problems. Those are things you (can't) mimic, so really then the kid just misses out on that," he said.
Lewton said they have reached out to families who they know are currently using services out of town to let them know about this option and encourage them to take advantage of it if they're having a hard time traveling out of town.
"If they have a great relationship with a doctor in Bismarck or Fargo ... and they feel they need to maintain that relationship, that's important. We're not trying to replace that, but if they need a simple prescription refill and it's very difficult for them to get to Bismarck — and that happens. We have kids that need something, need a medication, but they can't get it because Mom and Dad can't get off work," he said.