Officials praise outcomes of School Mental Health Intervention program

Hundreds of students have been helped through a new School Mental Health Intervention program, educators and social workers said Tuesday.

After a briefing to the State Board of Education, Chairwoman Kathy Busch said, “We have gotten a pretty good start. It will be interesting to hear legislatively where this will go.”

The $10 million, one-year pilot project was approved by the Legislature last year after being pushed for by state Rep. Brenda Landwehr, R-Wichita. To continue or expand the program will require legislative action.

The program has been implemented in nine school districts that partner with Community Mental Health Centers to meet the mental health needs of students. The districts are Wichita, Kansas City, Topeka, Garden City, Parsons, Abilene, Chapman, Herington and Solomon.

Officials representing several of those districts said the program has allowed them to hire more social workers and provided avenues for students to receive mental health services.

From July 1 through Oct. 15, which covers the first two months of the school year, more than 600 students were referred for services and more than half of those showed improvements, according to KSDE.

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