The Oklahoma State Department of Education has received $12.5 million in federal grants to address students’ mental health needs.
The funding is going to the area of greatest need: western Oklahoma.
"Of the 106 mental health providers that serve students, there are only five that exist west of Oklahoma City metro area," said State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister. "Only five."
Three separate grants will help bring in more licensed professional counselors, train school staff and teach students more about mental health. Hofmeister said to maximize the grants’ effectiveness, they’ll do things like have the new counselors teach intervention strategies educators can show others in their schools.
"To provide an enduring support in the parts of our state where, you know, we do not have that kind of service and yet great need," Hofmeister said.
What education officials learn through those programs will benefit the entire state.
"We will then be able to go back to our legislature and request the kind of evidence-based funding that we know is needed in our state," Hofmeister said.
The education department just wrapped up a summit on helping students suffering from trauma.