With Aid Money, American Schools Pay Special Attention to Mental Health
Schools in the United States are using a large increase in federal money to meet student mental health needs.
School systems, or districts, have a great deal of freedom in how federal money is spent. But the mental health issues among the students had become evident. Districts observed an increase in behavior problems, signs of stress and absenteeism as the students returned to class this fall. For many, it was the first time they had returned to a full classroom since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In Kansas City, Kansas, educators are opening an after-school mental health center. The center is filled with advisers and social workers. Schools in Chicago, Illinois have âcare teamsâ whose mission is to help struggling students.
For some school districts, the money has gone into long-standing work to help students cope with trauma – difficult experiences that led to emotional problems. Other school systems have created new efforts to treat students. Overall, the money puts public schools at the center of efforts to improve overall student well-being.
When the government sent aid to schools after the 2008 economic recession, “this conversation wasn’t happening, âAmanda Fitzgerald said. She is a member of the American School Counselor Association. Now, Fitzgerald said, the discussion across the country is very much centered on student well-being.
Last month, three major child health groups said the children’s mental health situation should be considered a national emergency. The US Department of Education has said the aid money is a chance to rethink the way schools provide mental health support. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said mental health must be at the center of recovery from the pandemic.
Pandemic aid to schools amounts to $ 190 billion. This is more than four times the amount the Department of Education normally spends on Kindergarten at 12e primary schools every year. Money for mental health services has been spent on worker training, mental health exams, and classroom courses that include social and emotional learning.
Many districts have worked to to rent more mental health experts. The National Association of School Psychologists surveyed its members this fall. He revealed that more than half of the districts planned to add social workers, psychologists or advisers.
With $ 9.5 million in federal aid and outside grants, Paterson Schools in New Jersey have added five behavioral experts. The district also hired two addiction experts and workers who can identify students going through crises.
Paterson is one of the poorest areas in New Jersey. Many of the 25,000 students there faced hunger even before the pandemic and struggled after family members lost their jobs, Superintendent Eileen Shafer said.
âWe wanted to make sure, before we try to teach something new, that we are able to deal with our children’s current situation based on what they’ve been through,â she said.
In Ellicottville, New York, school psychologist Joe Prior sees more anxiety among the students. He said the district wanted to use the help to hire a counselor to put students in touch with psychological help.
Chicago, the country’s third-largest school district, created a âhealing planâ for students, using $ 24 million of its $ 2.6 billion in federal aid.
In Detroit, the district spends $ 34 million on mental health programs. The school system uses the money to screen students, expand help from external mental health providers, and provide additional support to parents.
On a recent Wednesday it meant an hour meditation parent session at a local cafe. One parent feared that his own stress would affect his son’s ability to learn.
âAs a community, we’ve all been through something,â said Sharlonda Buckman, an assistant superintendent who attended the session. “Part of the recovery must be intentional work in spaces like this, so that we can be there for our kids. “
I am Dan Novak.
The Associated Press and Chalkbeat reported this story. Dan Novak adapted it for VOA Learning English. Ashley Thompson was the editor.
Words in this story
absent – adj. not present in a usual or planned place
to advise – nm a person who gives advice like a job
conversation – nm an informal conversation involving two people or a small group of people: the act of speaking informally
Kindergarten – nm a school or class for very young children
to rent – v. to give work or a job to (someone) in exchange for a salary or a salary
psychologist – nm a scientist specializing in the study and treatment of mind and behavior
anxiety – nm fear or nervousness about what might happen
meditation– nm the act or process of spending time in calm thought
intentional – adj. done in a way that is planned or planned
child – nm a young