Nearly $300 million in new grants aims to strengthen mental health services in schools


Schools can access funding for mental health services through two new U.S. Department of Education grants that aim to create a pipeline of support in schools, as part of the Biden administration’s efforts to address the challenges of mental health resulting from the pandemic.

The Department of Education announced the new grants alongside the White House on Friday. Funded by the bipartisan Safer Communities Act and the $1.5 trillion spending program for fiscal year 2022, the grants will provide nearly $300 million in total for mental health support in schools.

The new Department for Education grants come after two school years that have been particularly damaging to students’ mental health. More than 40% of college students reported experiencing persistent feelings of sadness in the 12 months from January to June 2021, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey. And in a 2021 poll from the American Psychiatric Association, more than 50% of adults with children under the age of 18 at home said they were concerned about the mental state of their children during the pandemic.

Money bolsters pipeline of mental health providers in schools

The grants aim to address student mental health challenges by addressing staffing shortages in schools. While the National Association of School Psychologists recommends that schools maintain a ratio of one school psychologist per 500 students, data suggests the national ratio is one psychologist per 1,200 students, according to the association. However, there is great variability between states, with some states approaching a ratio of one psychologist per 5,000 students.

The first of two Department of Education grants, titled the Mental Health Service Professional Demonstration Grant, will provide more than $140 million to “support a strong pipeline in the mental health profession,” according to a fact sheet from the Department of Education. White House..

The grant will help fund schools’ efforts to recruit and train quality school mental health professionals. Schools will also be able to use the money to provide “culturally and linguistically inclusive and identity-safe environments for students,” administration officials said at a Thursday news conference about the initiatives. The money will also help diversify the professional school mental health workforce, administration officials said.

The Department of Education’s second grant, titled School Mental Health Services Grant Program, will provide $140 million to schools and states to support efforts to increase the number of mental health care providers school-qualified. The grant aims to increase the number of school psychologists, counselors and other mental health professionals serving students.

The Department of Education will release proposed subsidy regulations in the coming months, administration officials said. The regulations will provide more information on how grants can be used and which schools will be prioritized for funding.

White House highlights other efforts to support student mental health

In addition to the new grant programs, the Biden administration also sent a letter to governors on Friday, outlining ways they can invest in mental health services for students.

The letter, signed by U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona and U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra, provided forthcoming guidance on how states can leverage Medicaid funding to provide services. mental health to students, according to the fact sheet.

Over the next few weeks, the White House said, the Department of Health and Human Services will also evaluate applications for $7 million in grants for educational activities designed to help students access trauma support services and to mental health care.

The administration also increased funding for the Department of Education’s Full-Service Community Schools program, which awards $68 million to schools that provide comprehensive services, including mental health care. The Biden administration has proposed spending $468 million on the program in the fiscal year 2023 budget.

And the Department of Education will provide $5 million to school districts through its Project Prevent program, which provides grants to help districts implement strategies to mitigate community violence and its impacts on students. .


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