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Imperial County Awarded $2.5 Million Mental Health Grant

-Editorial

Imperial County Behavioral Health Services, in partnership with the Imperial County Office of Education (ICOE), was awarded a $2.5 million grant under the Mental Health Student Services Act (MHSSA). MHSSA is a competitive grant program established to fund partnerships between county behavioral health departments and local education entities to increase access to mental health services in locations that are easily accessible to students and their families. Statewide, the MHSOAC awarded grants totaling approximately 88 million dollars over a four-year grant cycle to county behavioral health departments to fund the partnership between educational and county mental health agencies.

Recognizing the fact that schools provide an opportunity for early identification and early intervention to address behavioral health issues that can undermine learning and health development, Imperial County Behavioral Health Services, ICOE, and local high schools have formed the Imperial County School-Based Mental Health Consortiumwhich will provide important support services addressing the mental health needs of our students. Improved access to mental health services is foundational to supporting children and youth to develop into healthy, resilient adults. This 4-year grant is a unique opportunity to strengthen the partnership between our organizations and expand mental health services in Imperial County’s high schools. Grant funds will be used to hire five School-Based Mental Health Specialists housed on high school campuses and one Community Service Worker that will be used as a liaison between the schools and Imperial County Behavioral Health Services. 

“The last year and a half have been challenging for our schools and community,” said County Superintendent Dr. Todd Finnell. “While we’ve all worked diligently to address the educational needs of our students, an area of concern for all of us has been meeting their increasingly important mental health needs. I am so excited to see our School-Based Mental Health Consortium begin its work. Working in partnership with Behavioral Health and our consortium districts, ICOE is proud to support this work and ensure we strengthen our ability to address mental health in our schools. Our role in this effort is paramount.”

“The need for early identification and timely access to mental health supports for our students and their families has never been greater. The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed the stressors that so many of our students and families have faced. These stressors, all too often, lead to mental health crises, including suicidal ideation,” said Director of Imperial County Behavioral Health Services Leticia Plancarte-Garcia. “The Imperial County School-Based Mental Health Consortium will work to expand our high school staff’s capacity to meet the growing mental health needs of our students and families and reduce the stigma of mental illness. 

This exciting new partnership between Behavioral Health, ICOE, and our schools will be a step towards a more sustainable and accessible mental health safety net in Imperial County. We look forward to this partnership in support of our students and families most in need.”   

For more information about the Imperial County School-Based Mental Health Consortium, please visit our website at www.icoe.org/mentalhealth.  

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