School districts get grants to help with students’ mental health

Rep. Joe Courtney spoke with school leaders in Eastern CT about the challenges students are currently facing.
Published: Sep. 18, 2023 at 6:56 AM EDT|Updated: Sep. 18, 2023 at 6:05 PM EDT
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ANDOVER, CT (WFSB) - Multiple school districts in Connecticut received grants to improve the mental health of students.

A roundtable discussion at Andover Elementary School happened Monday morning to tackle the challenges of children’s mental health.

“Our youngest kiddos are coming excited to be at school, but with some emotional regulations sometimes,” said Principal Taylor Parker, Andover Elementary School. “Whether that’s from a result of COVID or just society pressures, family dynamics, I think kids are excited to be here, but sometimes need some extra support.”

Students got that extra care in the form of mental health support funding from the American Rescue Plan.

Mental health specialist grants will give some schools the opportunity to enhance their mental health services.

“It gives our school psychologist more time in the building whether it’s in the classroom and she can support with lessons or it’s really just setting up certain spaces,” Parker said.

It was an $825,000 investment in children’s mental health over the next three years.

The Connecticut Department of Education awarded the grants to dozens of districts.

The money was said to be a game changer.

The principal of Scotland Elementary School said the small school did not have any mental health services. Next year, with its mental health services, it will be able to put a large focus on its pre-K mental health services.

“They’re COVID babies,” said Anne Anowles, principal, Scotland Elementary School. “They were born during COVID and they just do not have the social skills.”

Monday morning, Rep. Joe Courtney met with school leaders at the roundtable discussion to discuss the challenges students face, specifically mental health issues. He met with representatives from the Andover, Columbia, Coventry, East Hampton, Marlborough, and Scotland school districts.

The specialists were expected to be a helpful tool within schools to help students manage anxiety and depression.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that in 2021, 42 percent of students across the country felt persistently sad or hopeless.

Andover Elementary School psychologist Kara Ormsby said COVID may have played a role in children’s development, but the need for mental health services has always been there. She said tackling the issue in elementary schools will create a solid foundation for students.

“Trying to teach students skills at the elementary level, they’ll be able to build that foundation of knowledge and social and emotional regulation skills so when they’re older, they can function more independently,” Ormsby said.

The grants were said to cover the years 2024 to 2026. They will also help enhance mental health services over the summer.

In all, 72 schools across the state received the money.

A breakdown of how much money each district received can be found on the state’s website here.

Multiple school districts in Connecticut are receiving grants to improve the mental health of students.
New funds are available to address the mental health of local students.