New Mexico School Districts To Gain Funds For Mental Health

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Three New Mexico school districts have been awarded funding to bolster mental health services over the next several years.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports the state Public Education Department was bestowed earlier this month with a five-year, $8.9 million federal grant.

The state has selected districts in Santa Fe, Farmington and Socorro to get grants to help students struggling mentally.

The districts were chosen partly because of they serve many low-income students and students who speak English as a second language.

The funds come from the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The program, dubbed Project AWARE, will cover mental health trainings for staff.

Santa Fe Public Schools hopes to bring culturally specific mental and behavioral health services for Native American students, according to Sue O'Brien, a district student wellness coordinator.

Farmington Municipal Schools Superintendent Eugene Schmidt says they intend to hire a behavioral health clinician.

Educators say students have had to adjust to being back to in-person learning after a year of being isolated by the pandemic. Several have also suffered deaths in the family due to COVID-19.

In January, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported increases in children going to the emergency room for a mental health crisis.