Helping children struggling with depression or drug addiction during isolation

COVID and the Classroom

ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. – Helping struggling children has been more difficult lately because schools are often where children can be connected to resources. A teacher or guidance counselor may notice a student who’s depressed or has signs of drug addiction and can then connect that student to free counseling or substance abuse treatment. But parents don’t have to go through school for those resources.

In St. Louis County, approximately $42 million each year is invested in children’s behavioral health services.

“It could range from individual therapy from a contracted provider to a prevention program such as around substance abuse and suicide prevention,” said Emily Koenig, director of the St. Louis County Children’s Service Fund.

Yet calls for help have dropped. Perhaps because people don’t know there’s help.

“Most of the time, these referrals come from a school environment where teachers are interacting and administrators are interacting on a daily basis with families, but I think it’s incumbent upon us to know that you don’t need a social worker or guidance counselor to make those referrals, that families can call themselves,” Koenig said.

“Since 2010, we’ve been funding the Behavioral Response Connection Helpline. It is a 24-hour, 7-day a week referral screening network or helpline for folks and so they can reach out to that resource at any time, if I’m a parent or grandparent or caregiver or someone interacting with child or youth, they’re available to make referral to providers who would best suit their needs.”

You can get your family connected to the helpline by calling 314-819-8802 or by going online to

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