A Buffalo Public school will be receiving funding from the State Education Department and State Office of Mental Health. WBFO's senior reporter Eileen Buckley says Burgard High School is one of three schools selected in the state for advancing the mental health of students.
"They come to school with things they have to deal with that take their mind off about learning, so this is really an important agenda," said MaryEllen Elia, Commissioner, New York State Education Department (NYSED).
Commissioner Elia tells us Burgard, as well as a school Brooklyn and in Rensselaer were selected for funding. It's from a $1.8-million grant from Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. It's a 2018 Project Advancing Wellness and Resilience in Education called AWARE. It is designed to detect and respond to mental health issues of school-aged children.
“So when you’re a teacher and you’re an educator and you’re in a school and you know students are coming to school with a number of things that are causing them to be distracted and unable to really learn – the teacher in your and the administrator and everyone in that school district really wants to support children’s healthful lifestyles to support them ultimately to become successful academically,” Elia explained.
This will be an added boost to the new mental health curriculums that are required in schools across New York State.
Burgard will receive more $300,000 as part of Phase One of this grant. It will serve a Buffalo district's ‘implementation site’ to develop school-based and community-based mental health education.
“And in those particular schools we’re targeting those schools to provide mental health resources for the students there and we are doing that with other state agencies – the Office of Mental Health (OMH) – a state government agency and other partners,” Elia remarked.
The Buffalo Public School District responded to our request for comment saying once the state provides additional information, they will be able to discuss the project.
As part of Phase One, all school staff at Burgard and the other two New York schools will be trained in Mental Health First Aid. This will allow them to learn of risk factors and identify mental illness.
Phase Two of the project will lead to all schools to be trained in Trauma Informed Practices