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Jacksonville, FL: $500M "school safety bill" passes in state senate

Mar 6, 2018, News4, Jacksonville, FL: Duval County schools welcome state's focus on mental health Improving mental health programs for teenagers is one aspect of Florida Senate Bill 7026, a sweeping, $500 million school safety bill that passed the state Senate on Monday and is now being debated in the House. A Duval County School Board member and a Jacksonville psychologist welcome the additional focus on mental health in addition to the current emphasis on physical health. The mental health components of the bill include: • $69 million for mental health assistance • $18.3 million for mobile crisis teams and • $500,000 for mental health first aid training … "Our students come from neighborhoods that have trauma. They’re exposed to a lot of things. We’ve seen this even recently in the news, with traumatic situations with gun violence for our kids," Couch said. "We need that support for our students. So this funding would really certainly help with that." Psychologist Dr. Justin D’Arienzo said most mental health issues -- like schizophrenia, depression and bipolar disorder -- begin to show up in teenage years. "I’m hoping there will be some programs in that bill that will provide greater awareness (on) different programs that build character, as well as teach students what they need to look out for," D'Arienzo said. "Teach students to be situationally aware and teach students that it’s OK to talk when they’re worried about another student." Couch said getting funding to decrease the student-to-guidance counselor ratio would be a major step in the right direction. D’Arienzo said it’s also important for both teachers and parents to look out for signs of mental instability in children. …

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