Mental health issues are common among children and youth – and the first signs of mental or emotional problems often appear at school. Children and adolescents with unmet mental health needs struggle academically, missing more school, receiving lower grades and often dropping out altogether.

The Georgia APEX Project offers schools an efficient and timely means of helping students who are struggling with mental, emotional, behavioral and substance use issues. The program provides in-school mental health counselors that serve as a resource for students and staff, and most important, help link students and their families with needed mental health services in their community.

Through the Georgia APEX Project, Highland Rivers Health provides mental health professionals onsite at your elementary, middle or high school. In partnership with school staff, Highland Rivers’ therapists will assess and identify a student’s mental health needs and determine how best to meet his or her individual needs. Appointments can be scheduled during the school day, before or after school, or at home if desired.

Download the APEX program fact sheet

Online APEX referral form

APEX services
• On-site mental health professionals
• Individual and group counseling
• Community Support Services
• Psychiatric and nursing services
• Linkage and referral to other services
• Training and support for school personnel

Benefits of school-based mental health services
• Increased access to mental health services
• Improvements in attendance, academic performance, engagement and school climate
• Reduction in mental health stigma
• Fewer classroom disruptions, discipline referrals, course failures and inpatient hospitalizations


For more information about the Georgia APEX program, email: apexinfo@highlandrivers.org
Or contact the regional Child and Adolescent Program Manager for your county:

Bartow, Floyd, Paulding and Polk counties
Taryn Spates, LPC; Phone: (706) 622-1503, Email: tarynspates@highlandrivers.org

Gordon, Murray and Whitfield counties
Gabriel Trujillo, LPC; Phone: (423) 432-0104, Email: gabrieltrujillo@highlandrivers.org

Gilmer, Fannin and Pickens counties
Melissa Dempsey, LCSW; Phone: (706) 299-1985, Email: melissadempsey@highlandrivers.org

Cherokee County
Benji Parker, LMSW; Phone: (706) 508-8185, Email: benjiparker@highlandrivers.org