BOARDMAN, Ohio (WKBN) – The Biden Administration announced more than $300 million in new mental health funding Monday.
The new funds are intended to help create healthier and safer learning environments for children through competitive grants and awards for schools to aid mental health staffing.
Bart Smith, Boardman Glenwood Junior High School’s principal, said he is thrilled to learn about these potential funds.
“To have this extra money to implement things that will help kids throughout their entire life when they become adults is instrumental,” Smith said.
Smith said mental health has always been a key focus at their school. They currently have the “BRYT” Program, which is anywhere from six to eight weeks and slowly transitions students back into the general education track after dealing with trauma and other issues.
The school has multiple Alta counselors within its building to help students that are struggling. Carlo Deascentis is one of those counselors.
“A lot of the students here don’t have access to the community-based supports, so providing mental health services in the schools kind of bridges those gaps and gets rid of those barriers,” Deascentis said.
Smith said even before the pandemic, he has seen an increase in mental health issues among young individuals. The pandemic has only magnified that.
“The increase of mental health since the pandemic has been profound, whether it was students being by themselves at home or being non-social beings when they are social beings,” Smith said.
Smith said this extra money that would be given to schools to facilitate extra counselors or programs like the BRYT Program is instrumental in allowing students to grow into productive citizens in life and deal with whatever trauma they’ve had to be successful in their future years,” he said.
“We are breaking down the walls of that stigma that counseling is not OK, that counseling is something that’s bad,” Smith said.