Gov, Tony Evers’ ‘Get Ahead’ initiative provides funding for mental health resources in schools.

WEST SALEM, Wis. (WKBT) — Students’ mental health is declining, and the pandemic has heightened feelings of stress and anxiety. To provide students with mental health resources, Gov. Tony Evers announced his “Get Ahead” Initiative.

The initiative slates $15 million dollars for schools to provide mental health services.

“Schools will be able to use these funds to provide direct mental health care, hire and support mental health navigators, provide mental health first aid and trauma-based care training,” Evers said.

The West Salem School District partners with local health-care agencies to provide students with mental health care.

“We’re trying to remove obstacles for families by partnering with those providers and allowing them to come in to our school,” said Heidi Horton, the district’s pupil services director.

Students can self-refer to a counselor for a mental health check-in. Students who need extra mental health care can schedule their health providers to meet them in school.

“The family doesn’t have to take off work, the student leaves class, goes to the safe spot, like school counseling spot and and when they’re able, they can return to class,” Horton said.

Horton believes teachers should be trained in mental health services as well.

“It just is important for staff because frankly, they’re the front-line providers. They’re the ones who see those students every day,” Horton said.

Mental health services belong in schools, and funding will help increase services for students, she said.

“You know, although we are about academics, we need to support the whole child,” Horton said.

Evers’ plan also allocates $5 million to the UW System to provide college students with mental health resources such as telehealth visits and therapy on campus.

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