CSIU Receives $3.5 Million Grant to Address Student Mental Health | News

MILTON — The Central Susquehanna Intermediate Unit has received a $3.5 million grant to address the growing mental health needs of students in its five-county service region.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) grant is for more than four years. Through the work of Project AWARE IMPACT (Improving Mental health Practices Across Communities Together), CSIU will partner with the Pennsylvania Department of Education, the Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, the McDowell Institute on the Bloomsburg campus of Commonwealth University, Geisinger Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health (the largest grantee), and community resource agencies to create sustainable supportive infrastructure to address the growing mental health needs of students and shortages of school mental health staff.

“Everyone is talking about the mental health crisis with our kids today because we can see it, post-COVID, but I don’t think we’ve even scratched the surface of the problem,” said Julie Petrin, director of Behavioral Health Support. Services that will oversee this grant. “This crisis was building before COVID and is only more obvious now. Giving our communities, schools and especially our students the tools to deal with stress and trauma in their lives is probably the most important work I will do in my career. On education. ”

Petrin said he hears from educators, parents and students asking for help and seeking resources.

“This grant will provide the system, tools, training and knowledge to deal with what is happening to our children,” she said. “If we can make mental health as important as physical health and lessen the stigma associated with it, I think we’ll change trajectories for the future.”

CSIU Outreach Director Dr. Bernadette Boerckel, said behavioral and mental health concerns have significantly impacted students across the 17 school districts and three career and technical centers served by CSIU since the pre-pandemic and student needs have only been exacerbated by the effects of isolation. , loss and changes in learning modalities during COVID-19.

To achieve this challenging goal, the Project AWARE IMPACT team will assist school districts through a needs assessment process that will result in action plans and resources that may include a three-tiered model to provide support to promote positive behavioral health. for all students, targeted services for those who need the most support, and targeted intensive services for those in need, Boerckel said.

The team will also assist in the specific professional development of specialists using the ECHO learning model – a combination of instruction and case studies for collaborative learning – to support the best practices of school-based social workers, counselors and school psychologists, Boerckel said.

They will further assist with referral pathways through student assistance programs (SAP) and Geisinger telehealth services to ensure that students in need of services receive necessary school and/or community mental health, substance use, and supports and services. concurrent; and a Geisinger Bridge Clinic, which will offer a fast-track clinic for pediatric patients in an acute psychiatric crisis, providing short-term, evidence-based care for children and families, while helping to coordinate long-term access to therapy. , Boerckel.

CSIU Receives $3.5 Million Grant to Address Student Mental Health | News

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