Alabama schools to receive $4.5 million to support student mental health

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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WDHN) — The Alabama State Department of Education has established a new position to help facilitate grant spending for mental health support.

The department and Alabama Legislature has allocated $4.5 million in grants across schools to help them hire mental health service coordinators.

“The mental health experts that this grant allows schools to employ will help identify barriers
to student success and facilitate services within a comprehensive, multi-tiered support systems
to support students and families with emotional and behavior issues demonstrated during
school,” State Superintendent Eric Mackey said. “The interventions and supports available to students through the creation of this position is a major move forward in the goal of providing help to some of our most vulnerable student populations.”

Education Administrator Kay Warfield said in 2016, the third leading cause of death for children 10 through 17 was suicide. In addition, 26 percent of Alabama children live in poverty.

“With the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic students’ mental health has been negatively
impacted by the exacerbated levels of stress from learning and everyday life tasks,” Warfield
said. “Trainings to date have focused on the importance of emotional temperature checks or an early
warning system, interventions and strategies to design a Mental Health Matters Multi-Tiered Plan that includes virtual students, and the positive impact and stability of building relationships between the mental health and school communities.”

The MHSCs from 102 school systems already did a two-day training session in the fall of 2020. The ALSDE is now focusing on new recommendations, which include putting MHSCs across all 144 schools in Alabama, a “Mental Health Matters” campaign, developing multitiered support services, increasing a

The ALSDE will focus on having mental health services coordinator positions in ALL 144 school systems; a statewide “Mental Health Matters” public engagement campaign across Alabama, professional development on multitiered student support services, increasing community support partnerships, increasing the School-Based Mental Health Collaborative, providing mental health first aid, and certifications for MHSCs who complete a 10-module course.

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