Biden to finally bolster mental health resources in schools

The Biden administration is stepping up to address our youth mental health crisis, and not a moment too soon. Even before the pandemic brought social isolation, trauma and loss on a scale never seen before, America’s youth were struggling. Since the pandemic, however, research shows that the mental health of America’s tweens and teens has deteriorated and that our schools are not equipped to meet the needs of the children they serve.

Data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention earlier this year shows that during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, 44% of teens reported feeling sad or hopeless that persisted for longer. two weeks, 20% of adolescents have considered suicide, and nearly 10% have declared at least one suicide attempt. In marginalized communities, these numbers are even higher.

There is a shortage of mental health staff in schools

One of the challenges teens and school districts face is the notorious lack of mental health staff in schools. “There is a shortage of mental health professionals across the country, whether in the community or at school,” said Kathy Cowan, director of communications for the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP). ABC News. “There is a long-term shortage of mental health professionals employed in schools.”

Currently, the average ratio of students to mental health staff in schools is 1,162:1, while the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) recommends a ratio of 500:1. NASP recommends hiring school psychologists, guidance counselors and social workers, each fulfilling different functions within the school and with the student body.

Biden to provide funds to address mental health crisis in schools

Using funds allocated through the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (BSCA), a new law against gun violence, the Biden administration plans to fulfill the president’s promise to address the shortage of mental health infrastructure and supports in communities. schools.

The Administration is committing total funding of $1 billion over five years to increase the number of mental health professionals in schools. The first round of funding, $280 million, will take the form of a series of competitive grants aimed at strengthening the recruitment and training of school staff in mental health.

“For too long, schools have lacked the resources to hire enough school mental health care providers, while at the same time, educators are often the first to notice when a student is slipping academically or is struggling due to mental health issues,” the US Secretary of Education said. Education Miguel Cardona said in a statement.

“We know that children and young people cannot do their best when they are suffering from depression, anxiety and other mental health problems, whether due to community violence, social isolation due to the pandemic, loss of loved ones, bullying, harassment or This bipartisan Safer Communities Act funding will help schools raise the bar on student mental health by recruiting, preparing, hiring and training highly trained school-based mental health care providers, including in underserved communities and for students such as multilingual learners. and those from low-income backgrounds and rural communities, where access to these services may be limited.

How can schools get mental health grants?

Schools were able to apply for funds from two separate grants – the School Mental Health Services Grant, a program to increase the number of mental health staff in schools, and the Professional Demonstration Grant for Mental Health Services, which will encourage schools to partner with colleges and universities in the training of school mental health personnel.

Grants are limited and awarded based on demonstrated need. The Department of Education plans to award approximately 150 School Mental Health Service Grants and 250 Mental Health Service Professional Demonstration Grants to schools to help deal with the crisis.

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