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School Based Mental Health

Buncombe County Schools recognizes the importance of our students’ behavior and emotional wellbeing and the critical role it plays in their academic and social success.  We are pleased to partner with four local mental health agencies who provide, with the permission of the parent or guardian, school based outpatient therapy.  Therapists can meet with students individually or in groups during the school day to address a variety of concerns including anxiety, anger management, grief support, social skills needs, as well as other issues as they arise.  Through our agreements, every school in BCS has access to these services.  Each of our partner agencies accepts Medicaid, NC Health Choice, and a variety of private insurances.  For the uninsured, agencies will work to seek state funding.   Agencies serve schools by district as outlined below:

Enka and Erwin: RHA Health Services, Inc.

Reynolds and North Buncombe: MAHEC

Owen District and Roberson: Access Family Services

Additionally, students throughout the school system who need therapy services in Spanish are served by staff from Access Family Services. 


Students for whom school-based therapy or other mental health services have not met their more complex mental health needs may be appropriate for our day treatment program operated in partnership with A Caring Alternative.  This short-term program serves students grades K-5, 6-8, 9-12 with acute behavioral/emotional needs in three classrooms housed within traditional BCS schools.  Students receive both intensive mental health services and academic instruction during the school day.  After completing the program, A Caring Alternative also provides school-based outpatient therapy to assist in the student’s return to his or her base school.

Families interested in accessing any of these services for their student should first contact their school counselor or school social worker.  The school social worker or counselor can provide more information and assist the parent in the referral process to the appropriate services.  Parents and guardians should feel free to also contact the school counselor or social worker for other resources to support their student’s behavioral and emotional health.

For general questions about school based mental health services please contact Dr. Shane Cassida, Director of Student Services, at 828-255-5918 or Shanon Martin, Assistant Director/ Title IX Coordinator, at 828-776-1505.

If specific concerns or complaints arise about services offered or if significant gaps in services occur, please contact Dr. Shane Cassida for assistance.