Source: Courthouse News Service
During her recent visit to North Carolina, Vice President Kamala Harris unveiled a new funding initiative of $285 million for mental health care in schools, according to Courthouse News Service. This funding, a component of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, is designed to enhance access to mental health resources for students across the nation.
North Carolina will receive an allocation of approximately $12 million, enabling schools in the state to hire and train 332 mental health counselors. The funds will also support group counseling sessions, one-on-one therapy, and social and emotional lessons for students. Nationally, over 14,000 school counselors are expected to be hired with these funds.
Addressing community leaders in Charlotte, Harris emphasized the goal of creating spaces where trained professionals can facilitate healing for students. While acknowledging the need for more resources, she urged attention to these issues, emphasizing the potential for tangible action.
During her visit to Eastway Middle School, Harris engaged with educators, counselors, parents, gun safety advocates, and local leaders to discuss strategies for reducing gun violence. She interacted with children affected by gun violence, highlighting the trauma they endure. Harris emphasized that gun violence is the leading cause of death among American children, surpassing car accidents and other forms of illness.
The visit to Charlotte followed a recent shooting incident, prompting calls for decisive action from city council members. Harris emphasized the collective effort required at every level of government to address the gun violence pandemic.
Corteasia Riddick, a social worker at Eastway Middle School, stressed the increased demand for mental health support due to trauma among students. She emphasized the necessity for more professionals to provide outlets for students to express their emotions and acquire coping skills.
The funding aims to bolster the number of school social workers, psychologists, and counselors to address the alarming rate of mental health issues among students. Mayor Vi Lyles echoed the sentiment that investing in trained school mental health counselors would significantly impact the future.
The funding announcement followed a $6.4 million initiative supporting local educational agencies in mitigating community violence’s impact on student mental health. Grants will facilitate collaboration with local organizations to help students break cycles of violence and trauma.
Riddick emphasized that students should feel safe in schools, free from concerns about their well-being. Harris, in her ninth trip to North Carolina, emphasized the Biden administration’s commitment to preventing gun violence. She commended the work of community leaders and expressed her goal of ensuring students feel safe to dream, learn, and be themselves.