Sacred Heart University’s Horizons program received $57,618 in funding from Connecticut State Department of Education’s summer mental health support grants for 2023-2025. The program aims to provide mental health support for Bridgeport students throughout the summer with a four-person professional team.
In a press release, Congressman Jim Himes (CT-04) stated, “Our schools have made great progress in offering comprehensive services for children, and these grants will allow that critical care to extend through the summer months.” Grant recipients must attend a training session to use the funding in accordance with the American Rescue Plan Act.
A psychotherapist and drama therapist facilitate weekly teacher support group sessions for the approximately fifty-person staff at Horizons, during which they can discuss “self-regulation,” or personal behavior control, and workplace challenges.
Horizons at Sacred Heart University provides educational, recreational, artistic, social, and emotional support to approximately 170 Bridgeport youth for a duration of six weeks. According to Ashley Nechaev, the executive director of this program, the grant will finance the Trauma Informed Care Project. This initiative aims to foster “restorative practices” that facilitate the development of personal relationships among community members.
She stated that the grant will support a four-person social and emotional learning team, consisting of an equity and belonging coach, a school social worker, a cognitive behavioral therapist, and a facilitator of restorative practices. She stated that Sacred Heart assembled the group this summer in an effort to secure funding for the Horizons program’s June grant application.
“This will assist in this trauma informed practice initiative for three years, and so we’re just thankful to the (Department of Education) and also to Sacred Heart, especially RSP, the Research and Sponsored Programs Department, for helping us hit the ground,” she said.
There are numerous important advantages that come from funding mental health-related initiatives at educational institutions. Above all, it makes early intervention possible by recognizing and treating mental health problems in kids and teenagers. This early assistance can avert more serious issues in the future. Additionally, it has a good effect on academic achievement because mental health issues frequently make it difficult for students to learn.
These programs improve academic performance as well as emotional health. In addition to being places of education, schools are essential for a child’s emotional growth. Students enrolled in mental health programs receive the assistance and tools they need to manage stress, anxiety, and other emotional difficulties.
Open communication about mental health in schools helps to decrease the stigma associated with these problems. If students are aware that their school is a secure and encouraging place, they are more inclined to ask for assistance and support. As a result, schools that implement these kinds of programs frequently witness an improvement in their general atmosphere, which promotes compassion, understanding, and a feeling of belonging among staff and students.
Essentially, school-based mental health initiatives avert crises by providing early intervention and support. They act as a link between the community’s mental health resources and kids and their families, enabling the latter to get the support they require outside of the classroom. In the end, school mental health programs must be funded if students are to have good mental health, succeed academically, and have a positive learning environment. It helps students and society at large by offering a number of advantages, such as early identification, decreased stigma, and long-term well-being.