St. Francis High School pilot chemical health program reaches goals

St. Francis High School’s pilot chemical dependency program took great strides this spring.

Eve Kahldahl, the chemical health counselor contracted by the district through Fairview Recovery Services, shared the successes at the District 15 board meeting June 9.

Since Kahldahl had connections to the St. Francis community, she was called upon by Fairview to answer the district’s request for a pilot program. The goal was to decipher the needs of students who struggle with substance abuse and mental health.

Her highest priority was to build relationships by meeting with students.

One hundred twenty-eight students benefited from the program, with 74 being seen for substance abuse and 41 for mental health. The remaining number were seen for both. Twelve students were also seen due to violations.

Kahldahl developed a form which staff, students and parents can use to anonymously report a concern about a particular student. She also gave lectures in health classes and participated in drug awareness week.

In addition, Kahldahl met with two support groups on an ongoing basis. One was for those who wanted to overcome their struggles with chemical health. Kahldahl taught students to recognize triggers which led them to misuse chemicals. She also directed them to resources from the 12 Step Program.

“We also started a concerned persons support group, which is a group for students who have a parent, brother, sister, somebody in their life, that they care about who is struggling with their own drug abuse,” Kahldahl said.

In this support group, Kahldahl dealt with how students should relate to a family member who struggles with substance abuse. She also covered how to deal with physical or sexual abuse from an addict. The groups will continue to meet once a month over the summer.

It has still not been announced whether the pilot program will continue next school year. The decision is made by the high school.

During the pilot program, Kahldahl delivered services twice a week for 10 weeks.

“I think it is a good foundation to start on,” said Kahldahl. She is excited that the program may continue and even expand. “Next year I would really love to do a group that is specific for depression,” she said. She would also like to educate teachers about depression.

Other dreams are to start a grief support group and a parent support group.

Kahldahl is well equipped to handle both addiction and mental health cases. She has been a chemical health counselor for 22 years and is also a licensed professional counselor.