Chris Schulz Published

Federal Funds To Address Mental Health In Schools

Wooden classroom desks in close up with no students.Adobe Stock

The first round of funding for an ambitious national mental health program has been announced. 

Last month, both Concord University and West Virginia University announced the creation of programs designed to put more counselors in schools across West Virginia.

The programs will be funded over the next five years by $10 million from the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act. President Joe Biden signed the measure into law last June to tackle the mental health crisis in schools.  

The program has increased the number of school social workers by nearly 50 percent compared to pre-pandemic levels. School counselors and psychologists are both up 10 percent and school nurses are up 42 percent. 

The state Department of Education estimates more than 150 new school-based mental health professionals will be hired in West Virginia with the program’s investments.

The department also announced up to $2.6 million in funding for a new Mental Health Personnel Technical Assistance Center to support grantees in meeting the goals of their grant. This center will help identify and develop resources to support grantees in addressing the social, emotional, and mental health needs of PreK-12 students and staff.

The center will also provide support to the field more broadly – to grantees and beyond – by disseminating best practices in recruiting, training, placing, and retaining school-based mental health services providers.