DOE: K-12 students will have better access to mental health services

Governors across the U.S. are encouraged to invest in school-based mental health services, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

More than 40% of teenagers report struggling with feelings of sadness or hopelessness, according to data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. And the American Psychiatric Association reports that more than half of parents say they are concerned about their children’s mental health.

The pandemic has only exacerbated these problems, and K-12 schools across the U.S. have seen the damage it’s caused. Fights among students have increased since the start of the pandemic. Schools are scrambling to find teachers as summer break comes to a close.

In an effort to tackle this mental health crisis, the Biden-Harris administration announced a two-action plan to address youth mental health on Friday.

Expand mental health services in schools

Next week the Department of Education will begin disbursing nearly $300 million in funds appropriated through the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (BSCA) and the FY22 Omnibus. This money will be used to hire more school-based mental health professionals and help create a strong pipeline into the profession.

The funding will be used for two essential programs:

  • The Mental Health Service Professional Demonstration Grant Program

Funds allocated to this program will be used to support an adequate pipeline into the mental health profession through partnerships to prepare mental health services providers to be employed in schools.

  • School-Based Mental Health Services Grant Program

Resources that are distributed to this program will help to increase the number of qualified mental health professionals in schools, including school psychologists and counselors, among others.

Money will also be distributed to support other programs that help to expand mental health services in schools:

  • Fostering trauma-informed services in schools
  • Expanding mental health services through full-service community schools
  • Responding to childhood trauma associated with community violence

Encourage governors

A letter was sent to governors across the country, on behalf of the DOE and Health and Human Services, highlighting the federal resources that are available to states and schools that can be used to invest in student mental health services.

It also provides insight on how to improve health-care delivery and ensure children who are enrolled in Medicaid have access to health-care services.

Lastly, an additional $1.7 billion, provided by the BSCA, will be allocated for mental health programs in the following areas:

  • Expanding community-based behavioral health services
  • Enhancing Delivery of School-Based Mental Health
  • Improving oversight of Medicaid’s early and periodic screening, diagnostics and treatment
  • Increasing access to children’s mental health services
  • Expanding training for pediatric providers
  • Supporting community and providers’ mental health training
  • Building awareness of and access to mental health services
  • Providing support after traumatic events
  • Enhancing the 9-88 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline
  • Improving conditions for students’ learning
  • Expanding access to out-of-school programs

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Micah Ward
Micah Ward
Micah Ward is a District Administration staff writer. He recently earned his master’s degree in Journalism at the University of Alabama. He spent his time during graduate school working on his master’s thesis. He’s also a self-taught guitarist who loves playing folk-style music.

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