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Grant will enhance mental health services in schools

Lakeland Mental Health Center has been awarded a grant by the Minnesota Department of Human Services to expand children’s access to mental health services at area schools.

The center was awarded a five-year grant for $950,000. Funding from the grant will provide or enhance mental health services at school districts in five area counties, including Otter Tail, Grant, Douglas, Stevens and Pope.

Eight school districts in Otter Tail County will benefit, including Perham-Dent.

“With that grant, we will be able to fund a mental health professional position to be shared between Heart of the Lakes Elementary and Prairie Wind Middle School,” said Perham-Dent Superintendent Mitch Anderson. “This is a great service for our kids and families, as they are able to get needed services during the school day opposed to taking them out of school for appointments.”

There are similar positions already in place at Perham High School, Anderson added.

Each school district in Otter Tail County was asked to submit a letter of commitment indicating their support for school-linked mental health services and their agreement to partner with LMHC to provide these services within their districts, said a representative for the center. 

These services go beyond the reach of a “traditional” school counselor, said an LMHC representative, and will focus primarily on behavioral health symptoms.

Having these staff at school will allow children and their families to access services without taking the child out of school. This grant also allows individuals to seek service regardless of their ability to pay.

By having school-linked mental health staff in the district, teachers also have quick access to collaboration with the staff at their site.

LMHC has a history of partnering with districts such as Fergus Falls, Perham and New York Mills to provide on-site mental health services. With this grant, these districts can expand their options and others can implement and begin services in their schools.

LMHC, school districts and the partnering agencies have already begun meeting to discuss the implementation of these services for the 2014-2015 school year. Implementation of the grant project will be done gradually throughout the first three years of the grant.

Marie Johnson

Marie Johnson joined the Perham Focus more than five years ago, and has since worn many hats as writer, editor and page designer. She lives in rural Frazee with her husband, Dan, their one-year-old son, Simon, and their yellow lab, Louisa. 

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