13 local school districts awarded funding for mental health services

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Thirteen school district in central Wisconsin have been awarded grants for million for services to support students' mental health.

Local grants include: $72,750 to be shared among Abbotsford, Athens, Edgar, Marathon, Rosholt and Spencer; $75,000 for Marshfield; $75,000 for Medford, $74,825 for Mosinee, $73,461 for Rhinelander and $20,650 for Wausau.

The Department of Public Instruction distributed $6.5 in 120 public school districts and one independent charter school. The funding comes from the School-Based Mental Health Services Grants Program.

"According to the latest Youth Risk Behavior Survey results, more than 4 in 10 students had a mental health need over the previous year," State Superintendent Carolyn Stanford Taylor stated in a news release. "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."

Before passage of the state's 2019-21 biennial budget, annual funding for the mental health program was $3.25 million. The department allocated this funding in June, notifying 51 grantees of their awards for the 2019-20 school year.

Applications greatly exceeded available support, according to a news release.

After the new state budget doubled the program's funding, the department allocated awards to another 54 grantees from the same application pool, sending final notifications Wednesday.

School-based Mental Health Services grants provide services such as those connecting students and families with community mental health providers, educating youth for social and emotional learning, and training educators to prevent and mitigate the impacts of traumatic exposure on youth. Based on newly compiled information about last year's grants, the department estimates the grants will allow at least 120,000 students to receive mental health services from a school or community mental health provider during the coming school year.