SAN ANTONIO — San Antonio ISD will receive funding for a youth mental health support program, which the district says will supplement its existing services for most middle school and high school campusues.
The program will provide therapists who specialize in areas of grief and loss, stress, drug and alcohol abuse, domestic violence, personal/social and academic issues across all its middle school and high school campuses.
The grant which comes from the American Rescue Plan Act is designed to help cities recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. COVID left both short-term and long-term impacts on classrooms.
“Being physically distant, socially isolated, it was really hard on students across the United States,” Beth Jones, assistant superintendent for integrated student and family supports with SAISD told KENS 5.
According to county documents, a social worker and professional counselor will be available at the following campuses including Brackenridge, Burbank, Edison, Highlands, Jefferson, Lanier, Fox Tech, CAST Tech, ALA and Sam Houston high schools, and Davis, Harris, Hot Wells, Longfellow, Lowell, Poe, Tafolla, Rogers and Whittier middle schools.
Counselors would be available from 8:00 am to 4:30pm during school days and family counseling would be offered after school hours as needed.
Commissioner Rebeca Clay-Flores for Precinct 1 was a supporter of the item and says there are plans to expand the program to other districts.
“I just wish I was able to get therapy at Brack [Brackenridge High School] and so now kids will be able to do that, and I’m just so excited for this,” Commissioner Clay-Flores said during remarks in court this afternoon.
Some of the goals for the program would include zero incidents of suicide completion at any campus for the next five school years through 2027. Jones says prior to COVID, they didn’t see many incidents of suicide among students.
“Our numbers are still very low compared to other districts of similar sizes and demographics. But, we are seeing an increase in the number of suicide outcries and that is the best place to intervene both before they get to that point and when they get to that point,” Jones said.
The grant is a portion of the $21.5 million in school-based behavioral health ARPA funding available to school districts across Bexar County.
The first five school districts that could receive funding through this pilot program include SAISD, Southwest ISD, Harlandale ISD, Edgewood ISD and South San ISD.
SAISD says since the grant is a reimbursement grant, they can start offering the therapy services as soon as the district and its partners are ready. Students may be referred for services by their counselor or they may speak to their counselor to request additional services.