WISCONSIN: $6.5M for "School-Based Mental Health Services"; 40% of students in need

July 26, 2019, Green Bay (WI) Press Times: Four School Districts Receive Mental Health Grants BROWN COUNTY – Four area school districts have received grants to address mental health in schools, and each is doing something different to address a problem that is widespread throughout Wisconsin. The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction distributed $6.5 million in grants to 120 districts last week as part of the School-Based Mental Health Services Grant Program. “According to the latest Youth Risk Behavior Survey results, more than four in 10 students had a mental health need over the previous year,” said State Superintendent Carolyn Stanford Taylor. “These grants will help those children. Students in every region of our state, in small and large districts, rural and urban communities, and everywhere in between, will benefit from mental health services they wouldn’t otherwise receive.” Grants were up to $75,000 per year for two years. Ashwaubenon School District The Ashwaubenon School District will receive $73,650 each year for the next two years. The district is using the funds to hire a half-time student wellness coordinator to administer the grant, grow programs and ultimately help students, said Tammy Nicholson, Ashwaubenon director of pupil services. … She said the focus will be on social and emotional learning, of which mental health is one piece…. “There are several districts that added mental health navigators with this grant,” said Jerry Nicholson, De Pere director of student services. “It’s not a direction we have chosen to go. We have more work to do in other areas first. We are still looking at an increase in support, but we are looking at social work as one thing of expanding.” … “It is a process that is used by two of the three medical providers in Brown County and the third is transitioning to it,” Jerry Nicholson said. “Dane County has transitioned to it and many of those school districts are on board.” He said Allies in Mental Health, a partnership between CESA 6 and CESA 7, will also work with the district to look to enhance work at De Pere High School that focuses on awareness and understanding, character development, empathy, engagement, compassion and other skills students can use to support each other. De Pere’s grant totals $74,674 for each of the two years. … The Green Bay school district is looking to target specific student populations with the grant funds, which total $75,000 each year. “We hired a project manager position (last year) called the mental health navigator,” said Katy DeVillers, associate director for pupil services in Green Bay. … While working to grow programs to help those two populations, DeVillers said the part-time staff member will also look to increase referrals to mental health service agencies in the area. “The plan is to have this seamless pathway of framework so we are consistent in our referrals for students with mental health services,” DeVillers said. The third area of focus Green Bay will have is on social and emotional learning. “We recognize that we have the need to provide some instruction to students in the areas of social and emotional learning, so we are looking to identify resources, and identify some schools to start in and have them start and work it into the curriculum.”… The Howard-Suamico School District will also receive $75,000 each year over two years and will not add staff with the funds. The district sent an email to The Press Times with what it hopes to accomplish with the grant. It plans to: • Focus on social and emotional education at all grade levels to meet the needs of all students through universal and targeted instruction. • Strengthen current school-based mental health framework through the use of student data, coaching and program assessment. • Partner with community mental health providers to strengthen understanding of student mental health needs, screening, referral pathways and current school-based mental health programs. … That includes two years with Allies in Mental Health, like the De Pere school district. Finally, evidenced-based, universal social and emotional curriculum will be provided to all schools to support the needs of students at all levels.