Area schools receive grants to expand mental health services
Sixty-four school districts and consortiums are sharing $3.25 million in state grant funding to provide school-based mental health services.
All of the funded projects involve collaboration with community mental health providers and other stakeholders to create comprehensive support systems for children, youth, and families. The new, competitive grant program attracted proposals from 141 applicants, representing 182 school districts and charter schools and requesting more than $8 million. Grants fund activities for the 2018-19 school year and range from just over $11,000 to the grant maximum of $75,000.
Three area schools received money through the grant, including: the Hudson School District, $70,985; the Ellsworth Community School District, $75,000; and the Prescott School District $66,700.
"In a given year, one in five students faces a mental health issue, with more than 80 percent of incidents going untreated. Those students who do get help, more often than not, receive it through their school," said State Superintendent Tony Evers. "This grant is a good start toward student mental health needs. But, we absolutely must do more to address student mental health so our kids have the support they need to be successful in school and eventually their communities."
Students deal with the same mental health issues as adults, such as anxiety, depression, self-harm, and substance abuse. Whether treated or not, these problems can tie into major challenges found in schools: chronic absence, low achievement, disruptive behavior, and dropping out. Grant applicants conducted a local needs assessment along with their community partners to focus the proposal. Additionally, applicants had to demonstrate how parents, caregivers, and families would be involved in the project.
Grant funds may be used for a variety of services on a continuum from universal wellness activities for an entire school to intensive intervention for students in crisis. Grant proposals included activities to
• develop and support student and staff social and emotional wellness,
• increase staff capacity to create trauma sensitive environments,
• provide training to staff and students to recognize mental health challenges and know how to advocate for themselves and others,
• provide student support groups led by school and community mental health providers,
• develop referral processes to ensure students who need additional support are referred to qualified providers,
• create spaces in schools for community mental health providers to work with students, and
• provide guidance to students and families to access multiple systems and supports.
During the grant period, recipients will collect data on the number of students who receive mental health contact by school mental health providers and the number of students who receive contact or service from a community mental health provider. Additionally, grant recipients will develop an annual report on how activities addressed goals and outcomes in the grant proposal.