Student Well-Being

Nearly $300 Million in New Grants Aim to Bolster Mental Health Services in Schools

By Libby Stanford — July 29, 2022 3 min read
conceptual image of money being used for mental health
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Schools can access funding for mental health services through two new U.S. Department of Education grants that aim to build a pipeline of support in schools, part of the Biden administration’s efforts to address mental health challenges resulting from the pandemic.

The Education Department announced the new grants alongside the White House on Friday. Funded by the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act and the $1.5 trillion fiscal 2022 spending package, the grants will offer nearly $300 million in total for mental health support in schools.

The new Education Department grants come after two school years that have been particularly damaging for student mental health. More than 40 percent of students said they experienced persistent feelings of sadness in the 12 months prior to January through June 2021, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey. And in a 2021 American Psychiatric Association poll, more than 50 percent of adults with children under 18 in their homes said they were concerned about the mental state of their children during the pandemic.

Money bolsters the pipeline of mental health providers in schools

The grants aim to tackle student mental health challenges by addressing staffing shortages within schools. While the National Association of School Psychologists recommends that schools maintain a ratio of one school psychologist for every 500 students, data suggest the national ratio is one psychologist to every 1,200 students, according to the association. However, there is great variability among states with some states approaching a ratio of one psychologist to every 5,000 students.

The first of the two Education Department grants, titled the Mental Health Service Professional Demonstration Grant, will provide over $140 million to “support a strong pipeline into the mental health profession,” according to a White House fact sheet.

The grant will help fund school efforts to recruit and train quality school-based mental health professionals. Schools will also be able to use the money to provide “culturally and linguistically inclusive and identity safe environments for students,” administration officials said during a Thursday news conference about the initiatives. The money will also help diversify the school-based mental health professional workforce, administration officials said.

The second Education Department grant, titled School-Based Mental Health Services Grant Program, will provide $140 million to schools and states to support efforts to increase the number of qualified school-based mental health providers. The grant is aimed at increasing the number of school psychologists, counselors, and other mental health professionals serving students.

The Education Department will release proposed rulemaking related to the grants in the coming months, administration officials said. The rulemaking will provide more information on how the grants can be used and which schools will be prioritized for funding.

White House highlights other efforts to support student mental health

In addition to the new grant programs, the Biden administration also sent a letter sent to governors Friday, highlighting ways in which they can invest in mental health services for students.

The letter, signed by U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona and U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra, previewed upcoming guidance on how states can leverage Medicaid funding to deliver mental health services to students, according to the fact sheet.

Over the next few weeks, the White House said, the Health and Human Services Department also will be evaluating applications for $7 million in grants for education activities designed to help students access trauma support services and mental health care.

The administration has also increased funding for the Education Department’s Full-Service Community Schools Program, which awards $68 million to schools that provide wraparound services including mental health care. The Biden administration proposed to dedicate $468 million to the program in the fiscal 2023 budget.

And the Education Department will be awarding $5 million to school districts through its Project Prevent program, which provides grants to help districts implement strategies to mitigate community violence and its impacts on students.

Events

Jobs Virtual Career Fair for Teachers and K-12 Staff
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Reading & Literacy Webinar
Science of Reading: Emphasis on Language Comprehension
Dive into language comprehension through a breakdown of the Science of Reading with an interactive demonstration.
Content provided by Be GLAD
English-Language Learners Webinar English Learners and the Science of Reading: What Works in the Classroom
ELs & emergent bilinguals deserve the best reading instruction! The Reading League & NCEL join forces on best practices. Learn more in our webinar with both organizations.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Student Well-Being Parents Worried About Their Kids' Mental Health See the Fix in New Schooling Options
Parents who say they are considering a change to their children's education identify mental health as a driving factor, a new report shows.
5 min read
Student walking down the stairs at her school.
iStock / Getty Images Plus
Student Well-Being Explainer More Students Are Getting Diabetes. Here's What That Means for the Classroom
More than a half million people under 20 could have the chronic health disorder by 2060, and they'll need support from schools.
8 min read
Conceptual image in blues: female student with diabetes wears glucose monitoring patch
E+/Getty
Student Well-Being Opinion One Thing Teachers Can Do to Signal High Expectations
There are constructive ways for teachers to communicate they believe in a student, a research scientist weighs in.
Camilla Mutoni Griffiths
1 min read
Images shows a stylized artistic landscape with soothing colors.
Getty
Student Well-Being Students With Health Conditions Protected Under Federal Law, Education Department Stresses
Asthma, diabetes, allergies, and gastroesophageal reflux disease may trigger student protections under civil rights law.
4 min read
Close up of a medical chart in an unrecognizable female doctor's hands as she listens to an unrecognizable young adult woman sitting on nurse's table.
E+