Iredell schools to expand mental health services

STATESVILLE, NC — Iredell-Statesville Schools is in position to expand a mental health program for its campuses, thanks to a $17 million grant.

What You Need To Know

  • Iredell-Statesville Schools has secured over $17 million through a Project RESOLVE grant
  • It’s being funded through the US Department of Education
  • The grant will help expand school-based mental health services to students

The school system, which serves over 20,000 students, announced it has secured a Project RESOLVE grant, funded through the US Department of Education.

The money will be used to offer school-based mental health services to students over the next five years.

Iredell-Statesville leaders say the grant will improve student safety by hiring 22 school-based therapists with a clinical licensure.

In a press release, Executive Director of Student Services Kelly Marcy says the money will allow the district to expand the school-based mental health program while supporting its crisis services.

“We have created a comprehensive mental health plan for students over the past four years, and receiving this grant allows us to continue to focus on student needs,” Marcy said.

Some employees say these clinical services are exactly what schools need to provide quicker responses to mental health crises.

Paul Veach is a student assistance program counselor at North Iredell High School. His duties include performing crisis management, behavioral intervention and ongoing support and referrals for students in need.

Veach says the school district has taken an innovative approach to stay on top of mental health response by having counselors on school grounds. He says counselors typically work with about 20%-30% of the student body throughout the academic year. But he says mental health needs are drastically growing.

“Probably 30-40 kids at any given time in a school of about the size of 900 students will have a history of self-harm or depression or hospitalization for suicide ideation,” Veach said.

In order to tackle any possible mental health crisis, Veach says the school must continue focusing on improving its level of clinical response. He says the Project RESOLVE grant puts them in position to achieve that goal.

“Do school-based therapy with those monies,” he said. “Estos [will be] Clinically trained therapists with master degrees or above, who may specialize in substance abuse or trauma recovery, those kinds of things.”

The district says one example of what a licensed clinician can do is have the ability to say when a student needs to be hospitalized.

“We’re seeing such an increase in the amount of time we’re dealing with a crisis. It’s tremendously helpful to have a relationship with someone who’s fully credentialed to handle those issues. It frees up our hands to put out other fires and attend to other things,” Veach said.

The district says this project aims to also lower anxiety and violence for students by showing there’s a place they can turn to when they need help.

“It increases our ability to have relationships with kids prior to the crisis,” Veach said.

In a statement, Marcy says every Iredell-Statesville school will have access to a school-based therapist. In addition to the 22 school-based therapists, Marcy says the district will hire three social workers to help with case coordination and one substance abuse counselor.

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