On December 27th, Governor Snyder signed Senate Bill 149 (H-1), which funds over $30 million for school mental health support services in schools. The bill caps off a successful year for mental health and education advocates, who are now commending the addition of crucial resources to help children in need residing in underserved schools.
Senator Goeff Hansen and Senator Peter MacGregor were co-sponsors of the bill, which included $5 million to hire additional licensed mental health care providers in School-Based Health Centers (referred to as child and adolescent health centers in the state budget). These providers would be placed in communities that currently have no access to mental health services. In addition, Senate Bill 149 included $16.5 to intermediate school districts to work with their local school districts to provide mental health services.
“This funding will help us reach students who currently do not have access to crucial mental health services in their communities,” said Debra Brinson, Interim Executive Director of the School-Community Health Alliance of Michigan, “We are excited to celebrate 2019 with this news. We know that mental health is a key to our kids’ safety and well-being.”
“We appreciate Senator Hansen’s forward-thinking which will leave a lasting impact on the well-being of students across the state,” said SCHA-MI Board President and Superintendent of Oakridge Public Schools Tom Livezey, “He has long recognized the healthy children are better learners.”
The funding was part of discussions that began earlier this year about how to make schools safer and healthier. Following the Parkland tragedy in the winter of 2018, students met with legislators to advocate for increasing mental health services as part of the solution to reduce school violence.
“Safety means that you should be protected at all times,” said Courtney, a student from Benton Harbor High School, “Mental health makes school safer because there are counselors and they are here to help them with their problems.”
The School-Community Health Alliance of Michigan advocates for over 125 School-Based Health Centers in Michigan, the majority of which receive funding from the state of Michigan. Increasing mental health services has been a top priority for both providers and students in those centers.
“School safety means knowing that I don’t have to worry about staying safe in school, when I should be learning,” said Madison, a student at Oakridge High School, “Mental health gives kids a place to go to talk about their feelings, which will hopefully stop a disaster.