Wisconsin School Mental Health Project Set to Begin

The Department of Public Instruction (DPI) announced this week that a five-year project to improve students’ emotional well-being and mental health is underway with the selection of 27 participating districts and training for the first group of school and community teams that are part of the Wisconsin School Mental Health Project.

From the DPI Release:

Goals for the project are to train more school-community teams to develop policies, programs, and practices that support students with mental health challenges and to integrate those activities into the schools’ existing behavior and discipline systems so they work together to improve the overall climate for student emotional well-being.

In Wisconsin, it is estimated that one in five children and adolescents experience a significant mental health issue that impairs their functioning in the community, at home, or in school. Symptoms of student mental health issues are wide ranging and can include behavioral outbursts, disengagement from friends and usual activities, problems with grades and school attendance, substance use and abuse, and thoughts or attempts of suicide. Wisconsin’s youth suicide rate is more than 30 percent higher than the national average. Among the young people with mental health challenges, it is estimated that in any given year a mere 20 percent to 30 percent receive the services that they need.