More mental health resource strengthen students' mental fitness

Updated: May 6, 2019

May 1, 2019 - With ever-more mental health resources being made available for students, Team Duval is taking its pledge to support mental health fitness seriously.

This pledge could not be fulfilled without significant support from the community. It is thanks to the unique partnership blending city, state, district and philanthropic resources that there has been a significant expansion of student mental health services to all district schools.

These services are essential in keeping students and schools emotionally and physically safe.

Under the plan, which was fully funded earlier this school year, 40 schools have a full-time therapist in place. Other schools will have therapist services on a part-time basis.

The availability of mental health services on-campus will improve the ability to intervene early – before symptoms and signs of mental illness lead to a crisis in a child’s life, or a social or academic problem at the school.

Jackie Simmons, executive director of Student Discipline and Support Services, says these services impact more than just the student being serviced.

“This is important work that has positive implications for all the students,” said Simmons. “While it obviously impacts the students receiving the services, early response to mental health issues creates a more positive emotional climate at the school that contributes to a safer school community and improved academic outcomes.”

The mental health expansion is one of several major strategies Duval County Public Schools is using to improve mental health, student behavior and overall school climate.

Other initiatives include implementing social-emotional learning at all grade levels, special services for students of military families and motivational coaches for students identified through early-warning systems.

The expansion of mental health services to all schools was only possible with $6 million of total funding from Jacksonville’s Kids Hope Alliance and $2.6 from a state of Florida allocation in the district’s support.

Services are managed through the United Way of Northeast Florida and provided through a network of community mental health providers including the Children’s Home Society, Family Foundations, the Child Guidance Center, Daniel Kids, and Jewish Family & Community Services.

Throughout the month of May, which is Mental Health Awareness month, mental health resources, tips and spotlights will be posted on Team Duval Newsroom.

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