Schools struggle to help students with mental health due to fund - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

Schools struggle to help students with mental health due to funding

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On the heels of the Sandy Hook Elementary tragedy, there is a heightened awareness of mental health -- but funding may not be there for some eastern Iowa schools.

Local school officials are stressing the need to identify students with mental health symptoms early, but because of school funding, they may have their hands tied.

A lot of school counselors need to be reactive rather than proactive now, simply because they are the main resource to hundreds of students, officials say.

On Monday, Waverly Shell-Rock superintendent Jere Vyverberg asked the board to consider a resolution stating schools need a 4 percent allowable growth budget increase.

The board agreed, and now that will be brought to the legislature.

Without that funding, the district can't pay for needed personnel, such as school counselors for the school. Vyverberg said the school's system is one counselor and one at-risk or family advocator short.

Those are key people when it comes to helping students with mental health.

The counselors at WSR do their best to be there for the students, but they say they need more help so students can get help earlier.

"(They) would be identified, treated, and there would be follow-up treatment that would continue with that student all the way through graduation and beyond," said Vyverberg. "But now, we can't do that. We aren't able to identify enough students and we aren't able to support parents well enough just because we don't have the personnel to do it."

Waverly-Shell Rock does have a program called Community Health Outreach Network, to bring in mental health services for the students who need them.

It's a feature designed so parents don't have to take off work and students won't miss school.

That program has been around for 10 years.

School officials say the teachers have done a great job recognizing problems as well.

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