Program to bring mental health resources to Detroit schools

DETROIT (AP) — The Detroit Public Schools Community District announced it's teaming up with a University of Michigan program aimed at helping students effectively manage symptoms of anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress.

TRAILS — Transforming Research into Action to Improve the Lives of Students — will make mental health resources available to 50,000 students and 4,000 staff members throughout the district.

The program has trained more than 400 school mental health professionals in 64 counties.

District officials in Detroit said they expected the collaboration with TRAILS to help improve social and academic outcomes across all grade levels.

"Unfortunately, federal and state education funding does not take into account that our schools and their employees must overcome the daily socio-emotional challenges our children face every day,” said Supt. Nikolai Vitti. “This means we cannot simply focus on teaching and learning.”

The partnership and associated funding “starts the process of building an integrated system of support and care for students” that includes screenings and intervention, Vitti said.

Staff will be trained on cognitive behavioral therapy and mindfulness, evidence-based mental health approaches. Each school also will be paired with a local mental health provider trained as a TRAILS coach.

“We are grateful to partner with the district to reach students affected by a wide range of stressors from academic pressure to far more complex hurdles, such as food and housing insecurity, and exposure to violence, abuse or neglect,” said Elizabeth Koschmann, TRAILS program director.

Programming is expected to roll out in roughly 30 schools a year through 2022.