Amid the widespread student mental health crisis and the number of school shootings in 2023 on pace to break another record, the U.S. Department of Education announced its intention to distribute and maximize funds from the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act to help improve physical and emotional safety in schools.
With factors such as the rise in violence, isolation during and after the pandemic, and worsening mental health, rates of anxiety and depression among students have never been worse. According to a report from the CDC, 60 percent of teens identified as depressed in 2021. The same report found that the number of high school females who experienced depression also jumped close to 20 percent over the course of one year.
These statistics prove the need for both improved mental health treatment in schools, and an increase in safety measures. Last Thursday, on National Mental Health Day, the U.S. Department of Education announced its renewed efforts to fight the mental health crisis in schools and increase school security by granting more than $150 million toward school safety and mental health treatments.
The Department of Education announced that 35 states will receive an estimated $95 million in funding from the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act to hire 14,000 more mental health professionals in schools such as licensed counselors and psychologists. The Department of Education said it is working on a way for schools to bill mental health care through Medicaid, opening a new avenue for students to receive care.
This comes as the ratio of mental health counselors to students hit its lowest point in more than 30 years with a ratio of 408 students to one counselor.
“Students are six times more likely to access mental health when these services are offered in school, and that’s one important reason why making it easier for schools to provide health care is at the heart of the Department of Education’s efforts to address the youth mental health crisis and raise the bar for learning conditions in our schools,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona.
The Department of Education also revealed that almost $60 million through the Department of Justice will go toward improving physical security in schools by improving violence prevention efforts, training school security and resource officers, supporting threat-assessment teams, training students, and researching the causes of school violence.
The Department of Education stressed that they will distribute over $1 billion in funds to the most “at need” school districts- ones with high levels of violence and poverty. The Education Department has already provided $50 million in BSCA funds for out-of-school programs that aim to improve engagement and attendance among middle and high school students in these areas.
How Kokomo24/7® Can Help
There is no single correct formula to keep your school safe. Kokomo24/7® understands that every school has its own unique set of needs and can help implement both the tools and the workflow processes schools require to better manage student safety and school safety.
Part of the solution to issues such as declining student mental health and making schools safer is implementing solutions that can empower both staff and students to create a culture of safety.
The Kokomo24/7® Anonymous Reporting tool provides students, staff, and community members with a private way to report concerning behavior. According to the U.S. Department of Education, in four out of five shootings, somebody knew of the shooter’s plan before the attack occurred. The Anonymous Reporting tool also provides a safe way for students to self-report any mental health needs. Make sure your anonymous reporting system provides both text and email communication to encourage student usage.
Our Emergency Alert Button helps ensure the safety of all school community members by providing a way to call for help during times of extreme emergency. With the simple press of a button, first responders will be dispatched to your location.
Kokomo24/7®’s Incident Management tool features one centralized dashboard to help you collect, track, manage, and respond to both the predictable and unpredictable. Our software maintains a database of student incidents, allowing users to better connect data points in order to understand what is going on.
Our customized forms provide surveys to collect the information you need, when you need it. Understand how your school community feels about anything and take the appropriate actions when needed.
The Communications Management tool helps users to streamline messages to select people or groups of people to stay informed of important emergency and non-emergency updates. Timely notify your school community of anything they need to know.
With our Visitor Management tool, you can ensure all visitors are properly managed and tracked through screening tools, attendance tracking, and options for digital badging, resulting in safer, more secure schools for students everywhere.
Kokomo24/7® can provide your school with a robust, yet easy-to-use technology platform that can help your school, your staff, and your students navigate the health and safety challenges they face. Through our suite of tech tools, schools can help to create a safer environment for all community members.
To learn more about Kokomo24/7® or to get a free 15-minute demo click the button below.