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MINNEAPOLIS – The Minnesota Department of Human Services today announced $45.4 million in grants that will increase access to mental health services for thousands of Minnesota children.
Under five-year grant contracts with the department, 36 mental health organizations will provide school-linked mental health services to approximately 35,000 students in more than 800 schools across 257 school districts and 82 counties by 2018. More than half of those students will receive mental health services for the first time.
“By connecting effective mental health services with schools, we reach children who have never accessed mental health services,” said Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson. “Whether they live in the Twin Cities or Greater Minnesota, through school-linked programs we see that they get the help they need, when they need it and where it is most convenient for them and their family.”
The $45.4 million investment follows a commitment last session from Gov. Mark Dayton and the Minnesota Legislature to double the capacity in schools for mental health early intervention and treatment services. Since 2008, the state has appropriated $4.8 million annually for school-linked services. In state fiscal year 2014, funding was increased to $7.2 million, and in each of the next four years will be doubled to $9.6 million.
Jesson was joined by fellow Governor’s Children’s Cabinet leaders Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius and Health Commissioner Dr. Ed Ehlinger at Thomas Edison High School in Minneapolis to announce the grants. New grantee Guadalupe Alternative Programs, which has provided school-linked services at Thomas Edison High School for eight years with funding from Hennepin County and Minneapolis Public Schools, will now be able to expand services to elementary and middle schools in the Edison attendance area and beyond.
“When a child is struggling with life’s many challenges, it is critical our schools have the tools necessary to provide support,” Cassellius said. “Without that support, students can suffer greatly, often have a higher risk of depression, dropping out, and are more likely to suffer from substance abuse. Schools play an important role in positively intervening in a child’s life by identifying when counseling and other health services are needed so students can be provided a safe and nurturing environment.”
“We know it is important for children to be healthy in both body and mind,” Ehlinger said. “By starting early and providing mental health care alongside traditional services for physical health, children and families can immediately improve their well-being and also boost their lifelong health.”
The grant announcement came on May 8 – National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day – and also in the 25th anniversary year for the Minnesota Comprehensive Children’s Mental Health Act. One of the earliest and most comprehensive pieces of mental health legislation in the nation, the Act envisioned a unified, accountable and comprehensive system integrated with medical, educational, corrections and other community sectors.
Grantees for state fiscal years 2014-2018:
A detailed list of school districts and schools to be served by grantees January through June 2014 (PDF) is online. Grantees will update their plans annually as they expand services.