ANN ARBOR, Michigan – As the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbates the challenges of students coping with anxiety and depression, new funding awarded to the Washtenaw Intermediate School District will help address unmet needs. It aims to fill a gap in mental health programs.
The Washtenaw County Public Safety and Mental Health Maintenance Millage Advisory Board has awarded WISD $2.3 million over three years. This WISD is intended to provide schools and parents with additional tools in her three categories: universal prevention, early prevention, referral and crisis services.
The Universal Prevention Fund will provide the training of 12 youth mental health first responders over the next three years, enabling schools to train approximately 240 school staff and community members.
A new mindfulness training curriculum will also be delivered through the Learning 2 Breathe program, allowing 41 teachers to implement the program in their classrooms over the next three years. WISD and Washtenaw County Community Mental Health are also working to develop systems that support substance use disorder prevention, early intervention, and crisis response, connecting students and parents with resources.
WISD Grants Manager Sarah Hierman said: “Similarly, youth mental health first aid is about increasing awareness and knowledge of the signs and symptoms of depression so that we can identify those who need more support.”
For the past three years, Community Mental Health and Washtenaw Intermediate School District have worked together to provide school-based adolescent mental health services using state and millage funds.
Millage funds youth mental health programs for community partners such as Corner Health Center, National Alliance on Mental Illness – Washtenaw County, National Center for Youth Opportunity and Justice, Ozone House, Washtenaw County Health Department, Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office doing. Ypsilanti Community School.
Millage Funding was first available in January 2019 and will continue to be available until 2024 with renewal of Millage in Fall 2024.
Funding for early prevention focuses on youth in need of intervention by identifying substance-using students and connecting them to care. The Mom Power program, on the other hand, engages mothers of young children facing adversity and stress and provides skills to meet their social and emotional needs.
Funds will also be allocated for Handle with Care adjustments. This is an initiative to notify schools when students witness or experience potentially traumatic events.
“Children and families may not be aware that it is happening, but inside the building, these are the parts we can equip our faculty to give young people a better sense of what is happening. We can understand it better and give you the tools to help you do it better,” says Hierman.
After assessing the county’s youth mental health needs and the services available in the community, a number of service gaps were identified.WISD and Community Mental Health should work together to adequately utilize the resources available in the community. We have worked with, WISD Program Manager Partnerships for Community and Schools Shannon Novara said:
“Schools are usually the center of social activities, and it had a big impact on children who were not able to participate in their usual social activities,” she said. “Some of the social development was missed. That’s why anxiety and depression symptoms are much more common than they used to be.”
Since WISD established its partnership with CMH through Mirage, three different funding buckets have been established that are available to both entities through state school aid funds. Community Mental Health provided funding in the form of a 20% cash match, and WISD recruited social workers deployed in local school districts, including Ypsilanti Community School, Lincoln Consolidated School, Saline Area School, and Milan Area School. Hiring.
Although the amount of funding coming in through Millage for direct clinical support did not provide sufficient funding for WISD to hire new people, such as additional counselors and therapists, Millage’s partnerships It helped both organizations identify ways to make the most of available funding, says Hierman. He said.
“We wanted to talk about who would hire people and where they would be placed,” Hierman said. “At the time, Mirage had just been approved and we wanted to make sure that whatever we were doing was offsetting the initiatives the county was putting in place for Mirage, so we really wanted to include CMH. It was intentional.”
The third tier of funding focuses on referral and crisis services that enable the employment of WISD-embedded staff members to help bridge the care gap between schools and community mental health.
Community Mental Health has been “serving our needs” in adjusting its services and partnerships in real time to meet the challenges facing children of all ages, Novara said. said.
“We hope these initiatives will not only inform young people of the resources available in the community, but also help enable adults at all levels of the community to support young people,” Novara said. “We really have to go all out to support them.”
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