The onset of the Covid-19 pandemic has done more than disrupt classroom education during the past two years. With the closing of schools forcing many students into online learning models, the reality of isolation, learning loss and mental health problems has taken a toll.
The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) reported in May, 2022 that only 56% of public schools across the nation moderately or strongly agreed they could provide adequate mental health services to students in need. Seventy-percent of public schools noted an increase in the number of students seeking help since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. In addition, 76% of teachers have expressed an uptick in concern for students showing symptoms of depression, anxiety, or trauma.*
Ninety-six percent of the schools in the study indicated having provided mental health services to students in the 2021-22 school year. However, 88% of those schools reported that they did not strongly agree they provided effective services to all students in need. The three most predominate factors limiting schools from providing adequate resources included a lack of mental health professionals available to service the caseloads, inadequate access to licensed mental health professionals, and lack of funding.*
In an effort to address student mental health needs, the U.S. Department of Education (Department) released a notice earlier this month inviting applications for two grant programs, totaling over $280 million, to help increase funding for programs that address mental health services for students and young people. The grant program will be funded through the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (BSCA) and the Fiscal Year Omnibus Appropriations.**
The first grant program will provide $144 million each year for a total of five years fund an increase in the number of credentialed school-based mental health professionals available to them. This grant, called the School-Based Mental Health Services Program (SBMH), will provide funds to state education and local education agencies as well as consorts of local educational agencies. The Department anticipates making up to 150 awards under this program.
The second grant program, named the Mental Health Service Professional Demonstration Grant Program (MHSP), will provide $27 million to improve and expand mental health services for children. This program offers competitive grants, “…to support and demonstrate innovative partnerships to train school-based mental health services providers for employment in schools and LEAs.”** The goal of this program is to provide funding to districts and schools that lack the ability to find a sufficient supply of school-based mental health professional who can meet student needs.
For further information regarding available funding and to access grant applications, visit the following links: