Concord school district secures grant for youth mental health services

By SRUTHI GOPALAKRISHNAN

Monitor staff

Published: 09-14-2023 5:15 PM

As the state works to strengthen its mental health care system, the Concord School District will receive nearly $1 million to support school and family mental health services.

The federal grant will expand the school district’s existing partnership with Riverbend Community Mental Health Center and fund additional mental health care initiatives the district has planned over a four-year period.

“It is an opportunity for the Concord community to systematically refine its approach to youth mental health and wellness with the schools as a key player in care coordination,” said Concord Superintendent Kathleen Murphy. “In true system-of-care values, we look forward to working with community partners, youth themselves, and their families to advance trauma-informed and culturally competent practices in youth mental health.” 

The grant has received support from U.S. Senators Maggie Hassan and Jeanne Shaheen and Representatives Annie Kuster and Chris Pappas.

“For children who struggle with serious emotional disturbances, it can be a challenge to access the care they need to recover and just be kids,” said Kuster, co-chair of the Bipartisan Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Task Force. “I’m glad to see these resources heading to the Concord School District to expand access to comprehensive mental health services for our students and their families and help them thrive in their daily lives.”

The grant will enable children to access school-based mental health services in partnership with Riverbend, removing obstacles to care like transportation to appointments during or after school hours.

The funding will also serve to extend the expansion of the alternative middle school program, designed to support at-risk youth.

Currently, six children attend Second Start, an alternative education center, receiving clinical, therapy, and academic services in the morning before returning to Rundlett Middle School in the afternoon.

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Murphy said the grant could help grow the group to 10 children.

“We’ve seen an increase of students needing services and we’ve been more concerned about some mental health issues and some of our students as a result of the impact of the pandemic,” said Murphy. “This grant will really help make an impact on students and families and have people understand mental health.”

The $951,635 grant will also go toward providing education, offering wraparound community services and developing the mental health workforce.

“As we continue working to combat a mental health crisis, it’s critical that students have access to mental health services,” said Pappas. “This funding will deliver much-needed resources to schools and organizations and advance their efforts to support the mental health needs of New Hampshire kids.”

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