Oklahoma schools receive $12.5 million in mental health grants

OKLAHOMA CITY – State leaders are hoping a grant will help Oklahoma students who are dealing with trauma and mental health issues get the help they need.

On Friday, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister announced that the Oklahoma State Department of Education has received three federal grants, totaling $12.5 million, to help districts across the state meet the mental health needs of students.

“Far too many of our children in Oklahoma are enduring severe hardship,” said Hofmeister. “The OSDE stands ready to respond to districts in crisis. We are grateful that grantors recognize not only the gravity of our needs but have certainty that we will spend these critical dollars so our teachers receive the training they need to most effectively serve their students.”

The largest grant awarded $8.6 million over five years to Elk City, Weatherford and Woodward. Project AWARE will provide two new counselors to each district.

The School Climate Transformation Grant will allow five technical assistance centers to be created in Hominy, Durant, Lawton, Oklahoma City and Woodward. A behavioral specialist at each center will train 10 schools on transforming school climate and integrate the Positive Behavioral Intervention System.

The Oklahoma Prevention and Mental Health Project will benefit 303 students in Washington Public Schools and include prevention curriculum and mental health awareness.

“These grants give Oklahoma the opportunity to implement prevention and intervention strategies that include the best training in the nation on mental health prevention and intervention,” said Hofmeister. “In order to lift academic outcomes, we must first ensure we have met students’ basic needs for safety, trust and security. The programs funded by these grants will provide critical data on how to improve mental health outcomes among our students that can be leveraged statewide to benefit all students in need.”