Oakland County announces new grant program that aims to help students struggling with mental health

Oakland County announced Wednesday morning that they would be starting a new grant program to help students struggling with mental health.

The announcement comes nearly seven months after a mass shooting at Oxford High School, where four students were killed, and seven people were injured, including a teacher.

Officials say they have been working on the grant program since August of last year. The program will be open to all Oakland County public school districts and charter schools. 

"Not only will this help people who are struggling, but the investments will help stamp out the stigma surrounding mental health services and our emotional wellbeing the same way we do our physical health," said Sean Carlson, Deputy County Executive, Oakland County.

The program will provide eligible Oakland County school districts with a base grant of up to $175,000. Additional grant funding up to $175,000 will be awarded if matched with equal funds from the school district.

School administrators say it's a program that is long overdue, and they plan to put the resources to good use.

"Our students, staff, and their families are survivors of an incredibly stressful last two years. The pandemic political turmoil and gun violence are having negative impacts on the mental wellbeing of everyone in the educational system," said Cyndi Peltonen, a Clawson Public Schools Board of Education Trustee.

According to the CDC, ADHD, anxiety, and depression are the most commonly diagnosed mental disorders in children.

"By collaborating with health professionals, those experts in the field, we will increase our staffing and provide more resources for a comprehensive and flexible plan," said Peltonen.

Officials said that money from the American Rescue Plan Act would support the grant program. The Board of Commissioners will vote to approve the plan on Thursday.

"I'm optimistic that we can get these dollars out the door in the next 30 days," said Carlson.