Staff Editorial: Services project empowers students’ well-being


Sakina Tahir

The school-based mental health services grant comes with a wide array of benefits for students and even qualified professionals.

TPT Staff, Staff Writer

Mental health issues have increased significantly in young adults in the past few decades, to the point where the rate of individuals reporting symptoms consistent with major depression has gone up more than 52% from the mid-2000’s to the late 2010’s, as revealed in a press release by the American Psychological Association. Multiple factors, from familial, social and cultural expectations, to internal conflicts and academic pressure are all stressors that contribute to the continued detriment of an individual’s mental health throughout their lifetime.

 To address both national and countywide mental health concerns, the U.S. Department of Education has generously awarded a five-year grant to FCPS for $13.5 million to support a School-Based Mental Health (SBMH) Services project that will promote healthy development and support the social and emotional needs of students throughout the course of their academic journey.  

In a 2022 report on the findings of the county’s youth survey by the Countywide Data Analytics, students with more attention and support, not only within their own families but also in the school and community domains, had a tendency to report lower rates of mental health issues and have lesser chances of engaging in risky behavior. 

The results of the survey highlight the importance of the grant’s purpose to expand its pool of school counselors, social workers and psychologists. Hiring more mental health professionals will encourage students to take control of their circumstances and advocate for their mental health, especially since these professionals have the ability to help students make tangible changes in their lives that will benefit them beyond K-12 education. 

The grant’s focus on improving the county’s recruitment and retention practices for mental health professionals will also create more jobs and provide opportunities for mental health professionals to utilize their wide variety of skills in diverse ways in order to meet the individual needs of each student. 

It must be kept in mind however, that a big part of getting students to utilize both future and contemporary mental health resources is destigmatizing mental health in society and bringing awareness to the different obstacles that individuals may struggle with on a daily basis, along with ways to overcome them on the path to success. The part of the grant that works to provide professional development to current school system employees should also incorporate ways that these professionals can develop and create interactive content that focuses on spreading awareness about mental health, and all the different resources students have available to them. 

Additionally, for students who may be hesitant about reaching out for help or are overwhelmed with the prospect of meeting individually with a professional, there should still be resources available to them personally, in order to ensure equal access and opportunity for all, regardless of a student’s background or circumstances. 

Mental health is a crucial part of how we function and interact on a daily basis with the people around us. In order to create a tomorrow in which future generations can prosper and thrive, we must work to positively change our approach to the issue, and implement healthy practices like those promoted in the grant not only within the FCPS community, but also on the national and ultimately, international scale.