Local charter school to provide counseling through new partnership

Local charter school now able to provide counseling through new partnership

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - Students and staff at Coastal Leadership Academy are now able to receive professional counseling.

The program is a partnership between Coastal Leadership Academy and The Center for Counseling and Wellness. It was launched about three weeks ago, and students have already shown interest.

Right now, the focus is observing, talking, and interacting with students.

Coastal Leadership Academy is a private charter school with around 180 high school students.

The new services include two offices inside the school for private counselors. Counselors will provide on-site counseling for students and staff, as well as monthly podcasts for them and their families.

Podcasts will be shared on the website and Facebook pages for Coastal Leadership Academy and The Center for Counseling and Wellness, with topics ranging from how to deal with anxiety, depression, and even relationship issues.

A big goal, not only the counselors but the principal of Coastal Leadership Academy, is working on the stigma around mental health.

“Recognizing the value of that [coaching] is not something to view as a weakness, but rather a strength,” Coastal Leadership Academy Principal Joe Greenberg said.

The counselors will be in the school for two to three days a week for now.

Veda Lamar Nichols, a licensed professional counselor associate at The Center for Counseling and Wellness, said this program is the only one of its kind in Horry County, having a full wellness center inside the school.

Lamar Nichols pointed out not only are the students dealing with the typical high school challenges, but now COVID-19 is taking many socialization opportunities away.

She said providing these counseling services is more important than ever. These counseling services are different than what a guidance counselor would provide at most schools.

Lamar Nichols said guidance counselors have a variety of topics to work with students on, which typically include a test or college prep. But these services have one focus.

“This is specifically focused on their mental health, on their health and well-being, on their emotional support and those types of things," she said. "It could be something as simple as a student getting anxious about a test and can’t quite come down. We can do everything to ground themselves, self-soothing to get through that or it can be as serious as suicidal ideation or self-harm or other things going on.”

These services come at no cost to any student. Students can be self-referred by a faculty or staff member or they can be referred by faculty or staff for services.

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