GUILFORD COUNTY, N.C. — A federal grant worth nearly $15 million will allow Guilford County Schools (GCS) to expand its on-demand mental health resources for students. The 2021 Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) data released last month shows alarming mental health trends among students in North Carolina.
"Through our Community Conversations, we've spoken a great deal about the need for increased mental health services for both students and staff, and recent tragedies in our community underscore how urgent that need truly is," Superintendent Dr. Whitney Oakley said.
The School-Based Mental Health Services grant from the U.S. Department of Education will help expand on-demand mental health services at 61 schools across the district and will provide funding for 16 new full-time mental health clinician positions over the next five years.
Clinicians may be trained in counseling, psychology or social work, and will help improve the ratios of counselors, psychologists and social workers serving students.
The district plans to partner with universities in the area to recruit a diverse pool of graduate students to serve in assistantships and fellowships that build near skills and experience in providing school-based mental health services, creating a talent pool of qualified candidates to fill district positions.
Last October, using federal relief dollars, GCS launched mental health services at 46 schools to provide on-demand school-based mental health services to students with parental consent.
The district expanded those services to 46 additional schools last month and made services available to all staff after nearly 1,000 students signed up within the first month.
The School-Based Mental Health Services grant requires federal and district project investments.
The federal government will provide 75 percent of project funding, and the district will provide a 25 percent match. The Department of Education will provide $14,835,019 over five years, and GCS will provide $3,708,755, bringing the total investment in school-based mental health services for students to $18,543,744.