PED Secretary Ryan Stewart
SANTA FE — The New Mexico Public Education Department has received a five-year federal grant worth nearly $10 million to improve access to school-based mental health services.
The funds will be used to increase the number of behavioral health service providers in selected school districts and charter schools, with selection based on family income, substance abuse rates, student suicide rates and student-provider ratios.
“This is wonderful news for New Mexico public schools and for the children who desperately need these services, particularly in this time of pandemic fears and isolation stress,” PED Secretary Ryan Stewart said. “This helps us meet an absolutely critical need as we strive to address the social-emotional well being of our children.”
To improve retention, the proposal includes stipends and increased pay for providers working in the identified districts and schools, with a priority given to rural areas and those serving predominantly Native American populations.
The grant proposal was a collaboration between the Public Education Department and the Department of Health’s Office of School and Adolescent Health.
Success of the program will be measured both by number and retention rate of behavioral health care providers in schools and by responses from students to the NM Risk and Resiliency Survey administered in the fall of odd-numbered years.
The Public Education Department will collaborate with the selected districts and charters to coordinate recruitment and retention work and with Native American communities to support those students and communities.
In addition, the department will work closely with New Mexico’s five largest universities to channel provider trainees to the places where they are needed.
The grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s School-Based Mental Health Grant program totals $2.4 million a year.