STAR Program for Students with Substance Use Issues

Last updated: June 17, 2019

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During the summer, the Department of Health’s Adolescent and Family Services Program will be available to screen students in person for free at the Department’s Behavioral Health Buildings North and South County locations. Call for an appointment at 410-222-6785.

Students who are seeking help with substance use issues now have another place to turn, thanks to the latest partnership between the Anne Arundel County Department of Health and the County Public Schools.

The STAR (Screening Teens to Access Recovery) Program allows school health nurses to utilize technology to connect high school students in a tele-session with a licensed therapist from the Department of Health. Sessions take place through a secure portal to ensure privacy.

Based on screening results, the therapist will work with the student to explore available treatment options and decide the next steps. The therapist and school health nurse will encourage students to include their parents, guardians, caregiver or another trusted adult in the process.

“We all have a stake in ensuring the wellness of our students,” Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman said. “This collaboration between the school system and the Department of Health is critical to help students that have a problem with substance use get the help they need when they need it.”

Acting Anne Arundel County Health Officer Billie Penley said, “Whereas any county resident seeking substance treatment can now walk into any fire station or police station 24/7, any high school student can arrange to go to the school health room at any time during the school day for help. STAR offers a nonjudgmental stigma-free environment that is convenient and welcoming.”

Schools Superintendent Dr. George Arlotto said, “This is another proactive step our partners at the Department of Health are taking to help us address wellness issues with all of our students. I believe the ability of students to access assistance from a friendly face in the school health room will encourage more students to seek help when they need it.”

Last school year, 327 students who were suspected to be under the influence of some substance were seen in county school health rooms. National statistics also show that 90% of adolescents with a substance use disorder receive no treatment.

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