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The Assessment, Support, & Counseling (ASC) Center

A University-School Mental Health (SMH) Partnership


The first Assessment, Support, and Counseling (ASC) Center was established at Watauga High School (WHS) in 2006.  The primary mission of the ASC Center is to address mental health concerns of the students and families by linking them with the expertise of ASU licensed mental health providers and graduate students in training under the supervision of doctoral faculty.

In early 2006, Kurt Michael (ASU) and Angela Quick (the WHS Principal at the time) met over coffee several times to discuss the idea of having ASU/IHHS affiliated licensed mental health providers serve the Watauga students and to consult with the faculty and staff to address mental health concerns at the High School. The spirit of the idea was to advance the teaching mission by addressing the behavioral and mental health issues that were impeding success at school in tandem with the professionals already in the building (e.g., school counselors, social workers, teachers, administrators, school resource officers). In addition, by providing services at school, many of the barriers (e.g., access, transportation, lack of financial resources) to receiving adequate mental health treatment were addressed directly. Shortly thereafter, discussions with the County administrators ensued to examine the practicality and logistics of such an agreement. The basic model of service delivery included: consultation/education with faculty and administration regarding mental health issues, crisis intervention, brief intervention, risk/substance abuse assessments, professional development, outreach, and referral. A memorandum of agreement (MoA) was written, revised, and endorsed by the administrators and attorneys from both agencies in May of 2007 and the first clinician served at the high school at the end of the 2006-07 academic year. By the fall of 2007, the plan expanded to include a graduate intern and weekly meetings with administrators and/or counselors to address the complex behavioral and academic needs of the students expeditiously and effectively.

By the fall of 2008, a full time master’s level social worker was hired by Watauga to help coordinate the project (Jennifer Wandler), a total of 3 faculty supervisors across three disciplines were involved on a weekly basis, and several other constituents were invited to the table. Most importantly, the contributors were from different systems outside of the school (e.g., community mental health, Boone Police Department), different job roles within the school itself (administrators, social workers, professional counselors), and different academic disciplines at ASU (psychology, social work, marriage and family therapy). The primary source of clinical labor is graduate students under the supervision of doctoral level faculty. This approach helps create a sustainable workforce, especially those interested in becoming qualified SMH clinicians. Moreover, ASC Center team members are invested in evidence-based practice. That is, we only use interventions that have been validated as effective based on science.

The ASC Model has now been implemented in 3 school districts (Watauga, Ashe, Alleghany) and discussions are underway to expand the operations in Ashe County significantly. Today, ASC teams meet weekly across sites and provide services every day of the week during school hours. The results of the program evaluations thus far have revealed significant improvements in mental health ailments and academic outcomes for the majority of those who have received treatment. In addition, The ASC Model has been well received by students, parents, and professionals alike and improvements are being made constantly to ensure that the behavioral and mental health needs of the students are addressed to help school staff accomplish their academic objectives with our most precious commodity, young people of the High Country.

 

Schools Served by the ASC Center

 

Watauga High School - Boone, NC

 

The ASC Center in Watauga High School was formed in 2006 by then-principal Angela Quick along with Dr. Kurt Michael, Dr. Lauren Renkert, and Dr. Jon Winek of Appalachian State University. The primary mission of the ASC Center is to address mental health concerns at the high school by linking the expertise of Appalachian State/Institute for Health and Human Services-affiliated licensed mental health providers with students in need. The ASC Center at Watauga High School has a range of licensed therapists, social workers, and graduate students in training.

 

 

 

 

Ashe County High School - West Jefferson, NC


The ASC Center at Ashe County High School was formed in the middle of the 2011-2012 school year. Similar to the ASC Center at Watauga High School, the goal is to address mental health concerns by providing a multi-faceted approach to psychological, behavioral, and academic problems at the high school level. Within the ASC Center at Ashe County High School is a variety of licensed psychologists, graduate students in training, and other licensed professionals.

 

 

 

 

 

If you have questions or comments about the ASC Center, contact: Kurt Michael (828) 262-2272, ext. 432; email: michaelkd@appstate.edu