September 26, 2018
A $9 million federal grant will help expand mental health services to students in Delaware.
The U.S. Department of Health, specifically the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, awarded the funds to Project DelAWARE, a partnership between Delaware's Department of Education and Department of Services for Children, Youth and Families, WHYY reported.
The grant will be distributed over five years to about one-fifth of the state's public school enrollment, supporting the Colonial, Capital, and Indian River school districts.
Officials plan to use funds to hire clinical staff on-site at schools, as well as give students better awareness of mental health services available to them.
A survey conducted by the University of Delaware in 2017 found that 16 percent of high school students in Delaware have considered suicide. For middle schools, the number was slightly higher, around 18 percent.
The number of high school and middle school students who committed suicide were 8 and 6 percent, respectively.
Though guidance counselors are already in place within the Delaware public school system, officials plan for the funds to enhance the availability of licensed, clinical social workers who can specifically work with students on behavioral health problems. A fuller staff to address childrens' needs could help ease the load of counselors already on site and, presumably, reach more students.
The money will also help train faculty on how to address mental health issues in students.
The First State will receive $1.8 million a year for the initiative.