Upper Columbia Academy Receives Wellness Center Grant

June 26, 2020 | Education | Michelle Melendy

Statistics indicate 50% of students will struggle with mental health issues during adolescence.1 To proactively meet the growing needs of students, Upper Columbia Academy girls' dean Dani Rivera, who is a licensed clinical social worker associate, and mental health counselor Timari Brower created the vision for a campus Wellness Center to offer stress management, mental health screening and information, career planning, and Christian counseling. The eastern Washington school was blessed with a grant of $130,000 to remodel the Olin Peach Power House, hire a coordinator, and provide counseling scholarships for uninsured or underinsured students.

The main area of the power house will be a place of relaxation to step away from the pressure of the day. Options for stress reduction may include peaceful music, massage chairs, herbal tea, coloring and a prayer garden. We hope to encourage our students and faculty to actively participate in self-care. This area will also be available for student activities and groups.

The coordinator will provide mental health screening and information, communication with parents, and referrals for mental health concerns. These needs may be addressed by the deans, chaplains and pastor or by a referral to a Christian counselor. The coordinator will also offer college and career guidance free to all students. The clinical director will provide supervision and crisis counseling.

The side rooms of the power house will be remodeled into three counseling offices and one telehealth room equipped with technology for distance counseling. The pastor’s office will remain in the power house to accentuate the connection between spiritual and emotional wholeness. Christian counselors will contract to provide services. In addition to individual therapy covered by insurance or scholarships, the Wellness Center will offer free group sessions to all students. Group counseling on anxiety and self-esteem began in the girls’ dorm last year. We hope to continue the momentum of positive growth in our students.

Upper Columbia Academy prepares students to love God with all their heart, soul, strength and mind and to love their neighbors as themselves.2 The Wellness Center underscores our commitment to education that encompasses students’ emotional, spiritual, physical and academic needs. Principal Eric Johnson states, “I believe this center is needed now more than ever before and will be a wonderful blessing to our students.” We are excited to offer this opportunity for stress reduction, personal growth and mental health treatment in the coming school year.

  1. “Mental Illness,” National Institute of Mental Health, February 2019,  https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/mental-illness.shtml#part_155771.
  2. Luke 10:27

Michelle Melendy, Upper Columbia Academy teacher and counselor