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Millions In Student Mental Health Funds At A Much-Needed Time

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Angels Camp, CA – It could not happen at a better time, stress Calaveras County educators after landing a competitive $2.5 million state grant for a student mental health program.

The Mental Health Services Act grant to support student mental health in local elementary schools was awarded to the Calaveras Health and Human Services Agency/Behavioral Health Services Division (CHHSA) and Calaveras County Office of Education (CCOE). Out of the ten applicants vying for funding, Calaveras County’s application got the highest score among the four small counties selected.

“This project is the culmination of years of working together to build more mental health programs for our children,” said CHHSA Director Kristin Stranger. She notes this is the first time they will be able to deliver early intervention services to the youngest students, adding, “We’re very excited about what this will mean for our schools and families, especially with the added stress of COVID-19 and distance learning.”

A sentiment echoed by CCOE Superintendent Scott Nanik. “This opportunity couldn’t have come at a better time for our schools,” said Nanik. “Staff members, as well as families, have been coping with so many changes and challenges that nearly everyone needs some measure of mental health support by now.”

The county plans are to contract with community-based nonprofit Sierra Child and Family Services and offer on-campus mental wellness “centers” at all elementary schools, with services available to all students regardless of insurance or income eligibility. Those centers will provide students with safe and supportive services and promote emotional health, school engagement, and positive connections with peers, teachers, and families, instruct county educators.

A program will provide a small team of mental wellness professionals that will work closely with school counselors and administrators. They will provide services that county officials say will include training for staff, students and families in coping and resiliency skills; targeted interventions for students experiencing trauma or other mental health stresses; and specific treatment for students exhibiting higher-level symptoms.

Superintendent Nanik added, “The grant will allow us to create the infrastructure we need to provide these services into the future. Once this component is in place, Calaveras County will have a full continuum of student mental health services – prevention/education, intervention, and crisis response – available to all grade levels in our county.”

County educators point to national statistics that show mental health problems affect one in seven children in the nation and those rates only rise during community crises, like the pandemic. Students face mental health issues that include anxiety, depression, disruptive behavior problems, and sleep disorders. For further facts and information regarding student mental health programs, click here.