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By Kalhan Rosenblatt
A new community center that offers free therapeutic services opened to serve the students and families of Parkland in the wake of two apparent suicides.
Eagles’ Haven, which opened on Monday and more than a year after a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School killed 17 people, will offer a range of “wellness experiences” for those in need in the community.
“There are a great deal of trauma services that have been made available through a variety of agencies as well as the School District. While so much is available, people have had a hard time understanding where to go or what is right for them,” Cindy Arenberg Seltzer, president and CEO of Children’s Services Council of Broward County, one of the organizations helping to develop Eagles’ Haven, said in an email to NBC News.
A press release for Eagles’ Haven says the service is “not a therapy center. It is a place for all of us to come together to rediscover wellness and restore hope.”
It was not immediately clear how long Eagles’ Haven has been in development, but Children’s Services Council of Broward County partnered with Broward Behavioral Health Coalition to provide free trauma counseling to the Parkland community since October 2018.
The opening of Eagles’ Haven comes shortly after the news of the apparent suicides.
Broward County Public Schools did not immediately respond to NBC News’ request for comment and information about the services that were provided to students in the days, weeks, and months after the shooting.
However, a memo from the school district, first reported by BuzzFeed News, outlined what “recovery and wellness efforts” the county put forward to help students cope.
The school district said it immediately opened five locations for the Stoneman Douglas community for free mental health support in addition to consulting with other school shooting survivors and the National Center for School Crisis and Bereavement.
Among other additions, the school district said it staffed more than 25 mental health clinicians within the Stoneman Douglas zone, added two guidance counselors to the Stoneman Douglas staff, and installed two wellness centers on the campus at the start of the 2018-19 school year.
Last year, voters approved a referendum that would provide the Broward County schools $93 million for four years, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reported. The newspaper reported that $7.4 million would be allocated for additional counselors, social workers and behavior specialists for the following school year.
The Sun Sentinel reported that Broward County has a ratio of one school psychologist per 1,630 students, and that the recommended ratio is one to 500 students.
Although Broward County appeared to provide many mental health resources, students still claimed that they felt rushed in returning to normal and pressure to sweep their emotions aside.
“When it comes down to it our trauma was quickly swept aside because they wanted everything to return to normal, we literally went back a week after it happened,” former Stoneman Douglas student Lex Michael wrote on Twitter.