The Student News Site of East Lansing High School

Portrait

The Student News Site of East Lansing High School

Portrait

The Student News Site of East Lansing High School

Portrait

A safe space

ELPS hires Behavioral Health Consultant prior to health clinic opening this fall
Brett+Stanaway+sitting+in+his+office+on+3%2F4%0APhoto+by+Joelle+King
Brett Stanaway sitting in his office on 3/4 Photo by Joelle King

Since January, Brett Stanaway has become a new resource for ELPS. Tucked in the back of student services, Stanaway has plans to improve the overall mental health of East Lansing as a behavioral health consultant.

“What I try to focus on is creating a safe space where young people come in, and they don’t have to be anybody but who they are,” Stanaway said. 

As an MSU alumnus, Stanaway has been in his profession since 2005. Starting in juvenile court, Stanaway continued to the Ingham Health Department as a court officer and later a supervisor in June of 2023. Even before coming to ELHS, he had known for a long time that working in mental health was what he wanted to do. 

“I just always had an affinity for people who are less fortunate,” Stanaway said. “I understand people’s struggles. And really, it  kind of was [my] driving motivation to have a career where I was in a helping position.” 

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Stanaway appreciates his transition from being more of an authoritative figure in the health department to more of a resource role in the high school. 

“It’s been it’s been kind of refreshing to not have to have to enforce and just be more of a support and utilize my Master’s degree in this role,” Stanaway said. “[And to] kind of capitalize on some of some of my more natural abilities.

East Lansing’s many resources and opportunities are what attracted Stanaway to this position. Working with administration in the past, he felt this would be a great place for him to expand resources and bring even more awareness to mental health.

“I feel that this position can bring in an additional layer to something that was already being served to the student population,” Stanaway said.

The position of Behavioral Health Consultant is a job that was freshly introduced this year in preparation for a clinic that will be built this fall as another resource open for the East Lansing public, not just students. This clinic, which was sponsored by state funding, will be used like a full-service doctor’s office, with nurses who can assist people with headaches to sports physicals. 

“The first part of that clinic is the behavioral health component, which is me, and we wanted to get this component going,” Stanaway said. “It was an extra office here. So East Lansing administration and department administration worked together to get this going prior to the opening.”

From his own high school experience and seeing how concerns about mental health were pushed aside and not advocated for, he knew helping others would be his passion. Stanaway’s main goal as East Lansing’s Behavioral Health Consultant is to bring awareness and make sure no one feels the stigma against caring for their mental health.

“One of the things about mental health is people thinking you gotta be crazy to seek mental health treatment,” Stanaway said. “But you’re not normal people, regular people, everyday people, struggle with mental health and bringing that realization in.”

Stanaway meets with individuals from the ages of 8 to 26. In three to six sessions, he will guide individuals with tools to treat their needs. Ultimately, Stanaway’s mission is for people to know his door is always open as a safe space for anyone who needs it.

“Really what I want to do is just kind of get out there and let folks know who I am.”

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About the Contributor
Joelle King
Joelle King, Photography Editor
Joelle King is in the class of 2025 and is a Photography Editor for Portrait.  This is her second year on staff as a junior.  Joelle's favorite thing about journalism is telling stories through video. When she is not in the newsroom, Joelle loves competitive dancing and reading.

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