Mental health services, salary increase for long-serving teachers funded by Fairfax Co.

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Long-serving teachers are set to receive a pay raise and virtual mental health services are set to be made available to students as part of Fairfax County Public Schools’ recently passed budget.

Long-serving teachers are set to receive a pay raise and virtual mental health services are set to be made available to students as part of Fairfax County Public Schools’ recently passed budget.

As part of the $3.3 billion budget, school board officials have allocated $500,000 for telehealth mental health services for students. Virginia County is still in the early stages of identifying a provider for the services, but county officials said program opportunities include access to physical and behavioral health providers and services devices that would allow students to use their devices for symptom management or tracking.

School board member Abrar Omeish said the program has been running for more than a year and that she and the board have convened a student mental health task force with representatives from each high school to get feedback. comments on the initiative.



The school system’s special services department is evaluating potential providers to offer virtual mental health services to students, and Omeish said the department expects the program to begin next school year. The program, Omeish said, is intended to be similar to the county’s partnership with Tutor.com, which provides students with virtual tutoring assistance.

The concept, Omeish said, largely stems from the college approach to mental health, which in many cases includes an app that allows students to access therapy appointments or 24-hour support. 24.

Ava Belmont, a recent graduate of Mount Vernon High School, helped research the telemental health proposal and said her own experiences motivated her to help make mental health resources more readily available to all the students.

“I definitely started to struggle with my mental health around college,” Belmont said. “Fortunately, I was able to access services and do things outside of schools. But I know so many students aren’t able to do that, and so I think it would have been really meaningful to see those kinds of changes made so that students who needed it could [access] because not everyone has that type of insurance or anything like that.

Belmont’s research and proposal cited data from the 2019-20 County Youth Survey, including that more than 46% of students surveyed said they had been told something bad about their race. or their culture in the past year, and that more than 36% of students said they had experienced a high level of stress in the past month.

Fairfax County, Belmont said, offers some mental health services to students deemed “high risk,” but not the general student population.

“Implementing telemental health services would be great, but there’s also a lot of work that needs to be done already, from the grassroots level, to be able to de-stigmatize mental health and realize that we all have mental health.” , Belmont said, “and it’s really about trying to foster that positive mental health so that we can talk about it openly and communicate positively about it.

Separately, all employees will receive a 4% raise and long-serving teachers will receive an additional raise. The county has allocated $4.3 million to add an additional step to current veteran pay scales.

School board members previously said the change would affect about 10% of employees.

“The work that has been done to honor employees who are stuck at the top of the scale will be appreciated by the 10% of our school staff who have the most years of service in FCPS,” said Kimberly Adams, president of the Fairfax Education Association, in a report. “The overall increase of one step plus 4% for all employees is essential to attracting and retaining talented employees in teaching and support. »

More information on what is included in the school system budget is available online.

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