AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — Dozens of school districts in Region 16 are receiving federal grant funds focused on mental health resources for students to make schools safer.
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) said the nearly $1 million in funding came from the Department of Justice and was authorized by his mental health and school safety bill, which was signed into law after the Uvalde mass shooting.
In a statement earlier this week, Sen. Cornyn said in part: “No parent should fear for the safety of their student when they drop them off at school, and no student should be afraid when they walk into the classroom.”
Anne Marie Wartes, a Region 16 counselor and mental health specialist, said the State of Texas has partnered with STOPit Solutions to provide 43 districts in the area with resources to help stop school violence.
“It involves mental health resources, bullying, prevention, anything in regards to school safety, where families, communities, students are able to anonymously report onto apps threats, anything that may be concerning,” Wartes said. “And families and students can get the help and resources they need through E-therapy and the HELPme app offers the prevention side of school safety.”
With these funds, Wartes said districts have been granted three years of access to these apps.
“The app also provides direct crisis line intervention, so it’s being monitored 24/7,” Wartes said, referencing the HELPme app. “So, the people at STOPit are able to notify a district ASAP, as soon as they see something happening with one of their students.”
According to Wartes, about 10 schools in rural parts of Region 16 do not have on-site counselors. She said the funding will also provide direct counseling services and outside clinical help.
“It’s going to be very preventative, and it’s needed. We are in a really large youth mental health crisis,” she continued. “And we’ve got to get to the root of what’s going on and get people the help that they need.”
Wartes said there will be plenty of training involved with all of the different components of these mental health resources, but they hope to roll it out effectively over the next few months.