The Cambria County Commissioners have approved a contract with Reaching Education Achievements with Clinical Mental Health, Inc. (REACH) to provide clinical mental health counseling in Cambria County’s 13 public school districts and two Catholic high schools.

The county initiative, referred to as the RISE Project (Referral, Intervention, Support, and Engagement), will be administered by the Cambria County Drug & Alcohol Program and will place a Masters-level clinical mental health counselor in each district’s high school building.  In additional to providing direct services to students, REACH clinicians will also function as school-based field experience site supervisors for paid interns from the Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s (IUP) masters and doctoral level clinical mental health counseling programs.

Project Objectives

  • Eliminate insurance or logistical barriers that may otherwise prevent some students from receiving services at a community-based provider

  • Build local capacity to deliver mental health services to youth by engaging interns in service delivery

  • Retain graduates for permanent employment in Cambria County by fostering relationships between interns, county schools, and the county service provider system

Data Driven Decision Making

The concept for the project originated with the Drug & Alcohol Program’s multi-year Prevention Needs Assessment process begun in 2018. Pennsylvania Youth Survey data indicated high levels of depressive symptoms being reported by students, and discussions in focus groups, including those with DUI offenders and individuals in long-term recovery, reinforced the connection between unmet mental health needs and the act of self-medicating with substance use.

Long-term support for the project will come from Cambria County’s national opioid settlement award, which will be disbursed to the county over an 18-year period.