HAYS COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — Some families in Hays County are stuck waiting to get their children mental health and substance use services because of waitlists.

Hays CISD’s Chief of Safety and Security Jeri Skrocki said more students are coming forward asking for help but they are having trouble finding any place to take them in.

“It’s taking weeks, if not months, for them to even get on a waitlist,” Skrocki said. “That is catastrophic for somebody who is going through, and in a situation where they need help immediately.”

Branches San Marcos hopes to address that gap. It’s a new mental health and substance use facility provided through Austin Oaks Hospital.

Director of the Outpatient Program Meg Hayden said they offer specialized services designed for teens and young adults.

“They can get group therapy. They can see a psychiatrist. They can even get their schooling here if they need to be doing that,” Hayden said.

Recently, Hays County has been dealing with an increase in substance use. This school year alone, five Hays CISD students died from fentanyl poisonings.

Community Liaison Sarah Kramer said they want to help address that.

“Hopefully we can address both behavioral health, you know, the anxiety, the depression, the route of maybe the substance use and then also address the substance use itself,” Kramer said.

Hayden said the phones have been ringing consistently since opening Monday. The demand is here and she believes these services will make a difference.

“They start to feel safe. They start to open up,” Hayden said. “They take what was an external motivator, the school saying they needed treatment, or their parents saying they need a treatment, and start to have an internal motivator because they actually start to feel better.”

KXAN’s Sarah Al-Shaikh will have more on this story. To watch, tune into KXAN News at 6.