The Tony Evers Government’s “Get Ahead” initiative provides funding for mental health resources in schools.

WEST SALEM, Wis. (WKBT) — Student mental health is deteriorating and the pandemic has heightened feelings of stress and anxiety. To provide students with mental health resources, Governor Tony Evers announced his “Get Ahead” initiative.

The initiative provides $15 million for schools to provide mental health services.

“Schools will be able to use these funds to provide direct mental health care, hire and support mental health navigators, provide training in mental health first aid and trauma-based care,” Evers said.

The West Salem School District partners with local health agencies to provide students with mental health care.

“We try to remove barriers for families by partnering with these providers and allowing them to come to our school,” said Heidi Horton, director of student services for the district.

Students can self-refer to a counselor for a mental health check-up. Students who need additional mental health care can schedule their health care providers to meet with them at school.

“The family doesn’t have to take time off from work, the student leaves the classroom, goes to a safe place, like a school counseling location, and when able, can return to class,” said Horton.

Horton thinks teachers should also be trained in mental health services.

“It’s just important for the staff because frankly, they’re the front-line providers. They are the ones who see these students every day,” Horton said.

Mental health services belong to the schools, and the funding will help expand services for students, she said.

“You know, even though we’re talking about academics, we have to support the whole child,” Horton said.

Evers’ plan also allocates $5 million to the UW system to provide students with mental health resources such as telehealth visits and on-campus therapy.

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