Leon Co. Schools invest more on mental health of students

LCS invest more on mental health of students
Published: Jul. 29, 2022 at 10:51 AM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - Leon County Schools are investing more on mental health of students by providing mental health resources.

LCS have received $1.6 million in a mental health assistance allocation from the Florida Department of Education.

Since 2018 the school has gradually received over $1 million from the state for mental health awareness.

That includes teacher and staff training, along with the direct employment of school level mental health providers, such as social workers, mental heath psychologists and guidance counselors.

“All of the money that comes out of that grant doesn’t fund all of those positions,” Director of Mental Health Services Tonja Fitzgerald said. “We have money for guidance counselors, social workers, we’re just increasing those numbers with the funds provided by the state.”

The school district will be bringing on three mental health psychologists and guidance counselors with the fund for assistance.

“Its always been a need and our counselors and social workers they provide those wrap around services,” Fitzgerald said. “They’re not only servicing the students but they’re servicing the parents also.”

To provide services to the some 35,000 students and families, Fitzgerald said they need the additional staff on hand.

The school district has also established partnerships with local law enforcement for assistance as the student population has grown over the last four years.

“We try to catch those kids that are having difficulties in the communities,” Fitzgerald said. “For those students having difficulties at home the parents contact us and those difficulties don’t stop when they get to school.”

Fitzgerald said the counselors and school psychologists will work at addressing those issues on a one-on-one basis.

“We want our students to be happy and successful,” Fitzgerald said. “We want our students to come to school safe and being seeing and able to participate in everything we have as a district.”

Fitzgerald said that the school will have two to five counselors working full-time on campus, in addition to a social worker working full-time at their secondary schools.

“The school psychologists are assigned one to two days a week,” Fitzgerald said. “The social workers are assigned two to three days a week.”

Fitzgerald said referrals for students come from parents and they’ve seen the growing need of students seeking someone to talk out their issues.

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